NEH, ALA Announce 6th Annual We the People Bookshelf Grant Opportunity

WASHINGTON, (September 2, 2008)

Apply through January 30, 2009, for a collection of 17 titles on the theme “Picturing America”

The National Endowment for the Humanities, in cooperation with the American Library Association’s (ALA) Public Programs Office, is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the sixth We the People Bookshelf project. Part of the NEH’s We the People program, the Bookshelf encourages young people to read and understand great literature while exploring themes in American history.

This year’s theme, “Picturing America,” explores the premise that a nation’s literature, as well as its visual art, can be a window into its character, ideals, and aspirations. The We the People Bookshelf on “Picturing America” will be a literary complement to the NEH’s Picturing America (SM) program—a free education resource that provides reproductions of 40 pieces of great American art to schools and public libraries to help educators teach American history and culture through our nation’s art (

Public and school (K-12) libraries are invited to apply online from September 2, 2008, through January 30, 2009, at In spring 2009, NEH and ALA will select 4,000 libraries to receive the 17 books for young readers, plus three works in Spanish translation, as well as bonus materials for readers of all ages. Libraries selected will be required to use the Bookshelf selections in programs for young readers in their communities.

The Bookshelf grants are part of the NEH’s We the People program, which aims to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through libraries, schools, colleges, universities, and cultural institutions. NEH plans to offer a We the People Bookshelf each year on themes related to ideas and ideals unique to America. Since 2003, NEH has awarded 9,000 We the People Bookshelves to public and school libraries.

The “Picturing America” Bookshelf will feature the following books, selected by the NEH in consultation with members of ALA and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley; Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull; Cosechando esperanza: La historia de César Chávez by Kathleen Krull (translated by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy); The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Sweet Music in Harlem by Debbie Taylor.
  • Grades 4 to 6: The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich; American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne; On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck; Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinet; The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith.
  • Grades 7 to 8: The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving; La leyenda de Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (translated by Manuel Broncano); Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
  • Grades 9 to 12: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis; Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge; Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck; Viajes con Charley - en busca de América by John Steinbeck (translated by José Manuel Alvarez Flórez); Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.
  • Bonus: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out by The National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance; 1776: The Illustrated Edition by David McCullough.

About the American Library Association

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has an exemplary track record of developing library programming initiatives, including the acclaimed reading and discussion series “Let’s Talk About It,” film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library® and other programs. Recently, it has established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming ( For more information about the ALA Public Programs Office, visit

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