NEH, ALA announce 6th annual “We the People” Bookshelf grant opportunity

Contact: Angela Thullen
Program Officer, Communications, PPO
(312) 280-5286

For Immediate Release
September 2, 2008

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

CHICAGO – The American Library Association’s (ALA) Public Programs Office is pleased to partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) 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 on its character, ideals and aspirations. The We the People Bookshelf on “Picturing America” will be a literary complement to the NEH’sPicturing AmericaSM 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 Sept. 2, 2008 through Jan. 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. Selected libraries  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 and ALA have distributed 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 esperenza: La historia de César Chávaz” 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 leyanda de Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving (translated by Manual 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

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 .

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities.  NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, exhibitions and programs in libraries, museums and other community places.  Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at .