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Goss, best-selling authors coming to Florida Celebration of Reading Feb. 13

By Staff | Feb 2, 2009

For the ninth consecutive year, former Gov. Jeb Bush will host Florida’s Celebration of Reading in Bonita Springs to benefit the Family Literacy Initiative, which has provided grants to more than 120 family literacy programs around the state.

The fundraiser takes place at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa on Friday, Feb. 13. Former President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush will join Gov. Jeb Bush and Mrs. Columba Bush in welcoming national best-selling authors, including:

Steve Doocy, the Emmy Award-winning co-host of the national “FOX & Friends” broadcast and bestselling author of “Tales from the Dad Side” and “The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook.”

Jeffrey Engel, teacher of history at the Bush School of Government & Public Service, director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and author of “The China Diary of George H.W. Bush.”

Derrick Barnes, one of the most celebrated new voices in children’s literature with the “Ruby and the Booker Boys” series.

A.J. Jacobs, whose humorous bestsellers include “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” and “The Know It All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World.”

Edna Hibel, America’s most collected female artist whose coffee table book is titled, “The Sundial Ticking.”

The Honorable Porter Goss, former CIA Director, Congressman and Mayor of Sanibel, will make a special guest appearance at the event.

Individual tickets to the Celebration of Reading are available for $250 per person, which includes the Celebration Dinner immediately following the reading program. The event begins at 6 p.m. Sponsorships are also available and include a variety of benefits including a private luncheon prepared by Art Smith, the James Beard Award winner and former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey; a golf outing; VIP reception and preferred seating options.

The Family Literacy Initiative is administered by the Volunteer USA Foundation, which provides funding, training and technical assistance for literacy providers. Funds from Celebration help support 12 Family Literacy Academies located around the state to serve families who agree to work on learning English as a second language or earning their GED while their children are also enrolled in educational programming.

Lead sponsors for this year’s Celebration of Reading include the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, Carnival Cruise Lines, Comcast Cable, Dollar General, Edna Hibel Studios, Empagio, Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, Florida Trend, Paragon New Media and Publix Super Markets Charities Inc.

Previous grant recipients in Southwest Florida include Fun Time Early Learning Academy, The Immokalee Foundation, Collier County Housing Authority, Collier County Education Foundation, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Shadowlawn Elementary School, Bonita Springs Literacy Council and the African Caribbean American Center.

For tickets or sponsorship information for the 2009 Celebration of Reading, contact Tina Matte, event coordinator, at 239-275-5758.