NEH We the People Bookshelf Awarded to 3,000 Libraries Nationwide

WASHINGTON, (April 8, 2008)

Classic books encourage young readers to explore “Created Equal” theme during Lincoln Bicentennial

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today that 3,000 public and school libraries will receive a free collection of classic books for the fifth annual We the People Bookshelf. Libraries across the nation will each receive 17 hardcover books for young readers (K-12) related to this year’s “Created Equal” theme, inspired by the 2009 bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The Bookshelf includes Spanish translations to accompany four of the selected titles.

“The We the People Bookshelf introduces young readers to important literature and promotes the understanding of vital ideas in our nation’s history,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “Through the power of these stories millions of young readers will have the opportunity to examine the central tenet of our American identity: that all human beings ‘are created equal.’”

The Bookshelf is awarded through the NEH We the People program, which supports projects that strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. One of the aims of the Bookshelf is to bring additional educational resources to the nation’s schools and to local communities. First awarded in 2003 to 1,000 libraries, the We the People Bookshelf has achieved significant growth in the past five years as the NEH has increased the number of book sets available each year and encouraged larger numbers of libraries to apply.

“The ‘Created Equal’ We the People Bookshelf will be another exciting enrichment to our school’s library,” said Librarian K.E. Hones of Robert Lewis Stevenson Elementary in San Francisco, Calif. “Last year’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Bookshelf allowed my students to really engage with American history, and I know that they will be just as eager to check out the titles in the new ‘Created Equal’ Bookshelf we’ve been awarded.”

Bookshelf awards will go to public and school libraries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Successful applicants include public libraries in cities, towns, and neighborhoods, as well as libraries at public, private, charter, and tribal schools and home school consortia. Libraries to receive this award will develop quality programs and events to raise awareness of these classic books and engage young readers with the “Created Equal” theme. Programs will be conducted in libraries between May 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009.

The We the People Bookshelf on “Created Equal” contains the following books:

  • Grades K-3: The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen; The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Michael McCurdy; and Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco (also in Spanish translation by Alejandra Lopez Varela).
  • Grades 4-6: Saturnalia by Paul Fleischman; Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Russell Freedman; Lincoln: A Photobiography also by Russell Freedman; Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton; and Lyddie by Katherine Paterson (also in Spanish translation by Rosa Benavides).
  • Grades 7-8: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis; Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman; Abraham Lincoln the Writer: A Treasury of His Greatest Speeches and Letters edited by Harold Holzer; and Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez (also in Spanish translation).
  • Grades 9-12: Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober; That All People May Be One People, Send Rain to Wash the Face of the Earth by Nez Perce Chief Joseph; Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (also in Spanish translation by Paz Barroso); Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography by William Lee Miller; and Amistad: A Novel by David Pesci.

In addition, each library receiving the “Created Equal” Bookshelf will receive a bonus “History in a Box” resource kit on Abraham Lincoln created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and supplementary programming materials, including bookplates, bookmarks, and posters.

A state-by-state list (including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories) of the school and public libraries selected to receive the We the People Bookshelf on the “Created Equal” theme is available in four Adobe PDF files, located in the box above.

The NEH We the People Bookshelf and programming materials are distributed through the American Library Association (ALA), which is working in partnership with NEH. For information about the ALA, please visit

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