Guests at Monday night's Ringling College Library Association Platinum Dinner might expect the daughter of a former president to talk politics.
But Jenna Bush Hager instead is likely to focus on her passions, which are literature and literacy.
Hager, one of the twin daughters of George W. and Laura Bush, has spent the years since her father was in the White House teaching, working and traveling as an intern for UNICEF, getting married, working for the "Today Show" as an education correspondent, and last April having her first child, a daughter named Mila.
She's also written two books, one a young-adult title called "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," based on the friendship she formed with a 17-year-old mother with AIDS; and a children's picture book, "Read All About It!" that she co-wrote with her mother.
Her speech Monday night kicks off the RCLA's Town Hall lecture series; her father will deliver two sold-out lectures Tuesday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
"My mom was a librarian and also a teacher so she loved children's books in particular," said Hager in a telephone interview before Christmas as she rushed to the airport.
"My sister, mom and dad were always recommending what books we had just finished. It was a part of my life really from the day I was born," Hager said. "She also really instilled her love of teaching in me. I worked in literacy, something she was and is unbelievably passionate about. It was somehow innate in me. And now as a mom; the baby loves playing with books. We're reading to her and she does respond to it."
Hager, who earned her degree in English from the University of Texas, said that "Ana's Story" "was hard to tell."
She was living in Panama, working on documenting the lives of children living in poverty, illness and neglect. In a community group for women and children with HIV/AIDS, Ana stood up and, baby daughter on her hip, announced that she was not dying of AIDS, but living with it. "We are survivors," Ana said.
Hager was intrigued by Ana's bravery and defiance, and spent the next six months meeting with her and transcribing their interviews. The two young women became friends, "without my family, without my friends, without my boyfriend.
"Because the subject matter was so sensitive, I wanted to get every single word right," she said. "Her story was so captivating, so important to me that I get it right. I was on an unbelievably passionate tear where I was working incessantly.
Ana's circumstances were not unfamiliar to many students the inner-city Washington, D.C., school where Hager taught for 18 months.
"Many of my students had come from this region. They had very similar stories to Ana's. That was one of the reasons I wanted to tell it."
The picture book she wrote with Laura Bush came about shortly after she returned from Latin America and the family was vacationing in Maine.
"It's basically based on both of our experiences teaching," she said. "And it was so fun to talk about these stories of teaching."
While she is now "completely immersed" in her job a The Today Show," she'd like to go back to teaching someday.
"Today is a full-time job," she said. "I write scripts and I work on one to three stories a week. I'm constantly traveling, I speak about UNICEF and other work, write for Southern Living magazine. I'm also chair of UNICEF's Next Generation, which is amazing," she said. "I'm pretty busy, as well as being a mom."