ALA and NEH announce We The People “Pursuit of Happiness” Bookshelf awards to 2,000 libraries

Contact: Lainie Castle
Project Director, PPO
For Immediate Release
May 25, 2007

ALA and NEH announce We The People “Pursuit of Happiness” Bookshelf awards to 2,000 libraries

CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that they have selected 2,000 school and public libraries throughout the country to receive a collection of 15 classic books from the We the People Bookshelf project. The theme of this year’s Bookshelf is the “Pursuit of Happiness.”

For a list of Bookshelf recipients, visit

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole announced the new awards as part of the NEH’s We the People initiative, which supports projects that strengthen the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.

“The 2007 We the People Bookshelf includes classic books that are rich in stories about individuals who embrace the 'unalienable' right of free people–the pursuit of happiness,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “NEH is proud to offer Bookshelf grants to support libraries as they work each day to encourage young people to explore their own paths to happiness through reading.”

A record 3,150 applications were received for the “Pursuit of Happiness” Bookshelf, and a total of 2,000 libraries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands were selected to receive the grant. The awards were given to public and school libraries, including those in private schools, community colleges, tribal schools and home school consortia.

Successful applicants will receive the set of 15 books as well as four of the titles in Spanish translation, a bonus CD with traditional music referenced in the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and supplementary materials, including bookplates, bookmarks, and posters. Libraries selected will receive the Bookshelf in spring 2007, and organize programs or events to raise awareness of these classic books and engage young readers.

The We the People Bookshelf on the “Pursuit of Happiness” contains the following books:

Kindergarten through 3rd Grade: “Aesop's Fables” by Aesop; “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” by Virginia Lee Burton; “Mike Mulligan y Su Máquina Maravillosa” by Virginia Lee Burton (translated by Yanitzia Canetti); “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

4th Grade through 6th Grade: “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt; “Tuck para siempre” by Natalie Babbitt (translated by Narcis Fradera); “The Great Migration” by Jacob Lawrence; “These Happy Golden Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder; “Journal of Wong Ming-Chung”* by Laurence Yep

7th Grade through 8th Grade: “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch” by Jean Lee Latham; “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle; “Esperanza Rising”* by Pam Muñoz Ryan; “Esperanza Renace” by Pam Muñoz Ryan (translated by Nuria Molinero)

9th Grade through 12th Grade: “Kindred” by Octavia Butler; “O Pioneers!” by Willa Cather; “Pioneros” by Willa Cather (translated by Gema Moral Bartolomé); “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald; “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine; “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

*Title donated by Scholastic Inc.

A complete list of participating libraries and additional information about the We the People Bookshelf can be found online at or Information about the upcoming 2008 Bookshelf will be posted in July 2007.

The Bookshelf grants are part of the NEH's We the People initiative, 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 issue a Bookshelf each year on themes related to American ideas and ideals. Since 2003, ALA and NEH have awarded We the People Bookshelves to 6,000 public and school libraries.

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has a strong 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 established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming ( More than 10,000 libraries and at least 10 million individuals have participated in library programming initiatives supported by the Public Programs Office. For more information, 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. For more information, visit