Bush , a former public school teacher and librarian in Texas, most recently visited Connecticut last October on a nationwide trip to support the campaigns of Republican congressional candidates.

On Monday, her focus was on nonpartisan topics close to her heart: literacy and community involvement.

"Americans, particularly young people, face so many competing demands for their attention that keep them from discovering good books," said Bush, who visited The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport to participate in The Big Read, a nationwide initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts
. "But it's important for all Americans to read our country's literary classics because these works define us as a nation."

Though her planned tour of the Mark Twain House and Museum
in Hartford was canceled, Bush announced Monday that Twain's classic "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" would be added to the official list for The Big Read.

Bush is honorary chairwoman of The Big Read, which is designed to push reading as a cultural pursuit by encouraging people to read certain classic books and participate in events and discussions.

In Bridgeport, the Big Read activities center on "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel by Harper Lee .

New Haven and Waterbury also have events focusing on that book, while Hartford selected Zora Neale Hurston 's 1937 book, "Their Eyes Were Watching God."

Bush last visited Connecticut in October 2006 as part of a nationwide trip to support Republican candidates.

During that visit, Bush spoke in Farmington to about 200 people in support of the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson , who lost her seat a few weeks later to Democratic newcomer Christopher Murphy .

She also visited Stamford in April 2006 to support Johnson and fellow GOP candidates Christopher Shays and Rob Simmons . Shays retained his seat in the autumn elections while Simmons, first elected to Congress in 2001, was defeated by Democratic challenger Joe Courtney .