. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Laura Bush Promotes America With Books

APBush, center right, meeting with Putina, center left, and the first ladies of Armenia and Bulgaria at the Kremlin on Tuesday.
U.S. first lady Laura Bush on Tuesday took a diplomatic charm offensive to the Kremlin, where she promoted American values using popular children's books.

"American children's literature ... is a way to teach values that people in our country share, and people around the world share -- values that have to do with living a good life and being a good person," Bush said.

She spoke during a discussion in the Kremlin on children's literature with first lady Lyudmila Putina and their counterparts from Armenia and Bulgaria.

The discussion was held in the presidential library, a circular, wood-paneled room lined with bookcases and memorabilia from Russian history. It was a prelude to an appearance by Bush on Wednesday at a book festival hosted by Putina.

Bush arrived on Tuesday on the second leg of a five-day diplomatic fence-mending tour to Europe.

She and aides were buoyed by the results of her stop in Paris, where on Monday French President Jacques Chirac kissed her hand and said their two countries should put differences over Iraq behind them and "let bygones be bygones."

She also raised the U.S. flag at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, signaling Washington's re-entry to the organization 19 years after it pulled out amid Cold War disputes.

In Moscow, Bush was to stick closer to a traditional interest of hers as first lady and as a former school librarian -- education and literacy.

She passed around books at the Kremlin discussion that she said were important to her and her family. They included "Hop on Pop," which she said her twin daughters used to act out by bouncing on their father, now President George W. Bush.

Others included "Little House in the Big Woods," about American pioneer life, and a book by British author Mary Hoffman, "Amazing Grace," about a black girl who overcomes gender and sex stereotypes.

Bush noted the economic value of children's literature, saying a popular book can make its author "a lot of money." But she said library funding is often a casualty to school finances. She also said American children were "addicted to television."

In a nod to Russian literature, she said of Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Reading his books has been a very important part of my life."

Putina, who referred to the U.S. first lady as "my friend, Laura Bush," said a key Russian goal was to use reading and books to strengthen family bonds.

Participants were also shown rare items from the Russian national library's collection of children's literature. They included a 14th-century handwritten textbook and a diary kept by Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, whose family was shot dead after the Bolshevik Revolution.