Past Themes and Reading Lists

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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