When Laura Bush entered the White House, she had been advocating for childhood literacy for decades as an elementary school teacher and school librarian. As first lady, Bush cofounded the National Book Festival, an annual literary event organized by the Library of Congress, and established the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush took a deep interest in women’s education in Afghanistan, describing how, “long before the current war began, the Taliban and its terrorist allies were making the lives of children and women in Afghanistan miserable.” In 2005, she traveled to Kabul to promise long-term U.S. support for the education of Afghan girls and women and announced a $17.7 million grant for the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). The Laura W. Bush Library and Women’s Resource Center at AUAF opened in 2013; the university moved its campus to Doha, Qatar, in 2021.
Laura Bush chose Aleksander Titovets, a Russian-trained painter who now lives in Texas, to paint her portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.