Barbara Bush Foundation announces student essay contest with winnershonored at AT&T Stadium; deadline Oct. 9

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

Parents and teachers, here’s a chance for students to be a part of the 17thannual Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading, which is presented by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Each year, the Foundation hosts an essay contest to share the joy of reading and showcase the writing talents of North Texas students.

The contest is open to students in grades 2-5 from Dallas/Fort Worth-area schools (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant and Wise counties). The deadline for entries is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

To enter the contest, young authors are asked to write an essay responding to the following prompt: Former first lady Barbara Bush once said, “Reading opens the world to me and keeps me open to the world.” Write a story about a book that has helped open the world to you. For example, has a book helped you experience a new place, explore a different way of life, or discover a new interest? Share about what you learned and how the book changed your outlook.

The contest winners will be accompanied by their parents and teachers to a special VIP breakfast held at AT&T Stadium – generously provided by the Gene and Jerry Jones Family – with guest author Michelle Staubach Grimes on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Grimes is the author of two acclaimed children’s books: Where is Pidge? and Pidge Takes the Stage. Contest winners will receive certificates recognizing their achievements, special prizes and books signed by Grimes. The students will be Grimes’ guests at the celebration breakfast and will have the opportunity to visit with the author and share their winning submissions. Also attending will be Brill Garrett, wife of Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett and a passionate advocate for making a difference in the lives of children, who is serving as event chair. Former First Lady Laura Bush is the honorary chair.

A panel of education and community leaders will assist in reading and judging entries. Twelve winners will be selected – three winners from each of the four grades. Winners will be notified by Thursday, Oct. 18, and their names will be posted on the Foundation’s website.

The essays should be no longer than 500 words and must be written legibly or typed. Only one entry per individual is permitted. All entries must be original work written by the contest participants; copyrighted material or images are not allowed.

Entries may be submitted to and must include an official entry form, found here or at Other special rules apply (see website for details). For more information about the contest, contact or call 850-562-5300.

The celebration breakfast is just one facet of the day. A quartet of popular authors with intriguing stories to tell – Michael Connelly, Philipp Meyer, Ellie LeBlond Sosa and Michelle Staubach Grimes – will headline the evening event slated for Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (2301 Flora St., Dallas). Tickets are on sale, and sponsorships are available at (see details below). Doors to the Meyerson Symphony Center will open at 6:30 p.m.

The always lively and entertaining program will feature the four authors sharing personal anecdotes and reading from their most recent works. Additionally, a tribute to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who established the Foundation in 1989 and raised millions of dollars for family literacy programs across America, will be made.

Here’s a quick rundown of this year’s featured authors:

  • Michael Connelly, the best-selling author of 32 novels with more than 74 million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into 40 foreign languages, is considered one of the most successful writers working today. Numerous books have been adapted for movies and TV, including Blood Work starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, and The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey. Connelly also is the executive producer of BOSCH, a popular Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch.
  • Philipp Meyer published the critically lauded novel, American Rust, which won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named an Economist Book of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book, and a Washington Post Book of the Year, in 2009. Meyer’s second novel, The Son, is a gripping, coming-of-age story set in Texas that has been a bestseller in a dozen countries, was published in 25 languages and has been honored with numerous awards. His book, The Son,premiered as an AMC original starring Pierce Brosnan.
  • Ellie LeBlond Sosa is the co-author of George and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story, a book about her grandparents’ incredible legacy of love. Ellie lives in Boston, where she works for a healthcare nonprofit. Ellie met her husband of four years at her grandparents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine, and was married there in 2014. Her grandparents’ love story is one that she looks up to and strives to emulate in her own life.
  • Michelle Staubach Grimes is the author of two acclaimed children’s books: Where is Pidge?and Pidge Takes the Stage. Raised in Dallas, Grimes earned a bachelor of arts and a law degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., before returning home to practice law and work in sports marketing. She became a stay-at-home mom upon the birth of her first child in 1999. In 2012, she enrolled in a continuing education program focused on creative writing at Southern Methodist University. After falling in love with creative writing and studying “story” through the SMU program, Michelle published her first children’s book in 2015.

The work of the Barbara Bush Foundation is more critical than ever. By 2030, an estimated 1 million Dallas County residents will not be literate in English – limiting opportunities and economic prosperity for families and the entire community. Further illustrating the issue is that approximately 70 percent of low-income fourth graders in North Texas today cannot read at grade level.

Funds raised from this year’s event will support more than 140 family literacy programs and groundbreaking literacy initiatives throughout the country that provide parents and children – including nearly 5,000 North Texas families – with access to educational opportunities so they can better their own lives and pass these important skills down to the next generation.


Individual tickets for the program only are $125. A limited number of $250 tickets are available, which includes reserved program seating along with dinner and a book-signing with the authors immediately following. Sponsorship packages are available ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. A special “Tickets for Teachers” sponsorship package rewards 10 dedicated educators with an opportunity for a special night out to celebrate the joy of reading.

For sponsorship information, contact Melissa Metoyer at To learn more about the Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading, go to


About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, a public charity, is the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy. The Foundation was established by Mrs. Barbara Bush in 1989, and today remains committed to her vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman and child to secure a better life through literacy. To learn more, visit or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (@BarbaraBushFdn).