Laura Bush was born in Midland, Texas, as the only child of Harold Welch (1912–1995) and Jenna Louise Hawkins Welch (born 1919). Her father was a home builder and later successful real estate developer while her mother worked as the bookkeeper for her father's business. Early on, her parents encouraged her to read, leading to what would become her love of reading. Laura said, "I learned [how important reading is] at home from my mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me. I have loved books and going to the library ever since. In the summer, I liked to spend afternoons reading in the library. I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie books and Little Women, and many others... Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your life".
As the wife of George W. Bush, she was First Lady of the United States from 2001-2009. Bush holds a bachelor's degree in education from Southern Methodist University and a master's degree in library science from the University of Texas; after graduation she worked as an elementary school teacher and a librarian in Texas schools.
Laura married Bush in 1977. During her husband's years as governor of Texas (1995-2001), Laura Bush became known as an advocate for education and literacy -- issues she continued to pursue in the White House during her husband's two terms as president (2001-09). She published a memoir, Spoken From the Heart, in 2010. The Bushes have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush.