Jenna Bush: ‘I’m living my dream job’

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/ Source: TODAY contributor
By Sarika Dani

This spring, it seems like everything's coming up Jenna.

The 26-year-old University of Texas graduate is getting ready for her May 10 wedding, and her second book hits stores today.

"Read All About It!" — which she co-wrote with her mother, first lady Laura Bush — is a children's book designed to get kids excited about reading.

After appearing with her mother on TODAY, the first daughter took some time to chat with TODAYshow.com in the studio about the book, her family and the road ahead.

Q:What made you and your mom decide to write this book?

A: [My mom] had always wanted to write a children’s book. She was a children’s librarian and an elementary school teacher, so of course she loves children and children’s literature. We had talked about the idea, about writing about her time in the classroom. [“Read All About It!”] is really based on stories she told to Barbara and to me when we were little girls. [It’s about] the funny things that kids do, the energetic ideas and the imaginations that kids have. It was a really natural process.

Q:What was your creative process like? What talents did each of you bring to the project?

A: We both brainstormed and talked about it for a really long time. Writers know — especially new writers — [that] a lot of it is the prewriting stage, the talking, brainstorming, the narrative arc and the character sketches.

I had done the majority of the sit-down writing, and [my mom] is quite the strict editor. I feel like maybe she has more of the old-school editing style, which really works in picture books, because you don’t want to articulate anything in words that is already shown through the pictures.

Q:Were you able to sit down together to work?

A: I was living with her. We did a lot of it in Maine last summer. I wrote a lot of it, and the first couple of drafts she would edit on paper. When I was on the first book tour for “Ana’s Story,” I was away, so we would have a lot of phone meetings, usually in the morning, because we both work best … over a cup of coffee.

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Q:What’s the best quality you inherited from your mother? Your father?

A: As I’ve gotten older, my mannerisms are more and more like my mom’s. Also, she was an educator — she’s extremely passionate about education and children. I guess I inherited that in some way. I must have been inspired by her.

From my dad … I think we have a similar sense of humor. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I think he’s funny!

Q:Are you and your sister Barbara more like one parent or the other?

A: Most people actually think I’m more like my mom because we’re interested in the same things. Of course, kids are products of two people, so we both have characteristics of both of them.

Q:You’re obviously close with your sister. How does the twin bond differ from a regular sister bond?

A: One thing that is different is that we were always the same age together, so we can really relate to each other. It’s really interesting to have gone through the same things in our lives at the same time.

Q:You’re getting married on May 10. Will marriage affect your relationship with your sister?

A: I don’t think it will affect it. That would have to be a weak sister relationship!

Q:What’s next? Do you think you’ll do another project like this with your mom?

A: I don’t know. I do think there are more stories left in ["Read All About It!" main character] Tyrone — there was a lot of things we didn’t use in this book. It was really cool to work in a creative manner with my mom. It’s an opportunity that not that many people have, and it was a really fun experience. I know we’ll look back and think, “Wow, that was really amazing.” I hope to continue writing and I hope to continue teaching. There are some other ideas I have for young adult books, but it’s hard to say.

Q:Do you think you’ll ever get into politics?

A: No.

Q:What’s your dream job?

A: I’m living my dream job! My dream job is to be in the classroom. Luckily I’m going to continue teaching next year. There’s no job that’s more rewarding than being with kids. I adore it. And I love to write. The fact that at age 26, starting today, I have published two books that’s, for me, amazing.

I really do hope to continue to teach and work in education in a larger arena and somehow work with education policy. I‘ve learned a lot from working with UNICEF and working in Latin America and the Caribbean. I hope to also continue to be an activist for kids and teenagers and especially girls who are living with HIV/AIDS, because all over the world, people don’t have the same rights that we do in the United States.

For more information on "Read All About It!" log onto www.readallaboutit.com.