Launched in 2003 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, the We the People Bookshelf initiative supports the reading of classic literature by providing a theme-based collection of books recommended for young readers to schools and libraries for use in local programs. Below are the reading lists compiled for past Bookshelves.
2003-2004: We the People Bookshelf on Courage
Grades K-3: The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz, Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.
Grades 4-6: The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Grades 7-8: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein.
Grades 9-12: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
2004-2005: We the People Bookshelf on Freedom
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 Ántonia by Willa Cather, Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
2005-2006: We the People Bookshelf on Becoming American
Grades K-3: The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland; Watch the Stars Come Out by Riki Levinson; Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
Grades 4-6: Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman; The People Could Fly: African Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton; Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving; In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty 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; Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
Grades 9-12: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather; Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin edited by Louis P. Masur; Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza; Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by Ole Edvart Rølvaag