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NEH Awards Books for Younger Readers on "Becoming American" to 2,000 Libraries

We the People Bookshelf awards will support community programs

WASHINGTON (April 19, 2006)--The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded free copies of classic books to 2,000 public, school, and military libraries throughout the United States and overseas. Each library will receive the 15 classic books on the theme of "Becoming American" from the We the People Bookshelf, along with copies of three of the titles offered also in Spanish. As part of the award, libraries will hold programs or events to raise awareness of these classic books and engage young readers.

"The history of our nation overflows with vivid and compelling stories of immigrants drawn to our shores by the promises of freedom, justice, and opportunity," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "The Endowment's We the People Bookshelf enables younger readers to see how America's immigrants have shaped our history and culture and to examine from many perspectives what it means to 'become an American.'"

The new awards are part of the Endowment's We the People program, which supports projects that strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. The awards will go to neighborhood, military, and public school libraries--as well as libraries at private schools, charter schools, and home school cooperatives--throughout the United States, each of which will receive a set of the 15 books, posters, bookmarks, and other promotional materials from NEH through the American Library Association, which is working in partnership with NEH. NEH gratefully acknowledges the generous support for the We the People Bookshelf provided by the McCormick Tribune Foundation, whose gift enabled NEH to double the number of libraries receiving books this year.

The We the People Bookshelf on "Becoming American" contains the following books:

  • Grades K-3: The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland, Watch the Stars Come Out by Riki Levinson (also in a Spanish edition), and Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say.
  • Grades 4-6: Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman, The People Could Fly: The Picture Book by Virginia Hamilton, Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (also in a Spanish edition), and In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord.
  • Grades 7-8: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith, The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and Dragonwings by Laurence Yep.
  • Grades 9-12: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (also in a Spanish edition), Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin edited by Louis P. Masur, Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza, and Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by Ole Edvart Rölvaag.

In 2005, NEH awarded 1,000 libraries the We the People Bookshelf on "freedom"; in the previous year, which was the first year of the We the People Bookshelf, 1,000 libraries received books for young readers on the theme of "courage."

A complete list of the school, public, and military libraries selected to receive the We the People Bookshelf on "Becoming American" is available in four Adobe PDF files, located in the box above.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov