MOORE — Former first lady Barbara Bush spoke via Skype on Monday to an auditorium full of elementary school students and told girls to “marry well” like she did as she expounded upon the importance of reading and literacy.
Bush spoke via Skype in front of more than 500 students at Briarwood Elementary School and a handful of students from Southmoore High School as part of her literacy foundation and recognition of International Literacy Day. The students at Briarwood are currently housed at a church following the razing of their school down to a concrete slab because of a deadly May tornado in Moore.
Asked by one of the students what she considered her most important policy or organization as first lady, Bush said she had the opportunity to do something good every single day. She listed her work with young patients suffering from AIDS, feeding the hungry and literacy, which she said is her main interest in life.
“So I had a wonderful opportunity to do good things just because my husband was president. And I still can — that's the wonderful part. I can still go up to the hospital here or go to a library here, read to children here and people care, just because I married well. So girls, marry well,” said Bush, 88, as the students in the auditorium applauded and cheered.
The former first lady started the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy to reach the most Americans possible, she said. “If everybody could read, write and comprehend what they've read, we'd be a much better country. We'd have less teenage pregnancies. We'd have less school dropouts. Our country would just be so much better and more people could get jobs,” she said.
Bush also shared that her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen and said in addition to having her friends and family close by, she enjoys living in Texas because of the people.
“I love people in Texas,” she said. “They're very much like Oklahomans. They're warm. They're friendly. They're honest. They're not fancy people. They're just good people,” she said.
Throughout the 20-minute event, the Internet connection went in and out, making for delayed speech and at times leaving Bush inaudible.
Nicole Johnson, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, said it was “cool” to have the former president's wife speak to the students. Johnson was one of the students selected to ask Bush a question. She asked about Bush's favorite type of dog because she likes dogs, Johnson said.