NEH Launches We the People Bookshelf on "Freedom"

ARLINGTON, VA., (June 8, 2004)

Lynne Cheney and NEH Chairman Bruce Cole announce set of classic books for young readers; NEH program will provide books to 1,000 libraries

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced the second We the People Bookshelf, a new set of classic books for young readers (K-12) on the theme of "freedom." Lynne Cheney and NEH Chairman Bruce Cole made the announcement to a group of local schoolchildren while standing before sections of the Berlin Wall at Freedom Park in Arlington, Va. The Bookshelf is part of the Endowment's We the People initiative, which supports projects that strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

"Through the Bookshelf we are bringing great books to young people and helping them better understand this nation's great story of freedom," said Cole. "These wonderful and powerful books shed light on our national heritage. They all reflect the theme of Freedom--freedom sought, freedom denied, freedom lived."

Both Cheney and Cole reflected on President Ronald Reagan's legacy of freedom in the United States and throughout the world.

Cole also announced that again this year, the Endowment will offer complete sets of the We the People Bookshelf to 1,000 school and public libraries across the country. These libraries will explore the theme of freedom through public programs for young readers in their communities.

Freedom Park, the site of the announcement, is dedicated to the spirit of freedom. The park brings that spirit to life with symbols of the worldwide struggle for liberty, including the largest display of original Berlin Wall pieces outside of Germany.

The following titles appear on the new We the People Bookshelf:

  • Grades K-3: Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble, Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
  • Grades 4-6: The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, Ben and Me by Robert Lawson, To Be a Slave by Julius Lester, and The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
  • Grades 7-8: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.
  • Grades 9-12: Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen, My √Āntonia by Willa Cather, Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

During today's event, Cheney and Cole talked about the importance of reading classic books and learning more about our history with young public school students who participate in "Everybody Wins! DC," a local program that pairs public elementary school students with adult reading mentors.

NEH looks forward to working with the American Library Association for a second year to disseminate information and to encourage libraries to take part in the We the People Bookshelf program

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