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Bookshelf on "Courage"

We the People "Courage" programs at libraries have all been completed. Applications are no longer being accepted.

The "Courage" Bookshelf

The books included on the "Courage" Bookshelf were:

Grades K - 3

  • The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
  • Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Grades 4 - 6

  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Grades 7 - 8

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Grades 9 - 12

  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Selected libraries

See a list of libraries that received the "Courage" Bookshelf.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) launched its first We the People Bookshelf on June 3, 2003. The fifteen books for young readers (K-12) all focused on the on the theme of "Courage."

Initially NEH planned to offer complete sets of the "Courage" Bookshelf to 500 libraries across the country. When the response from libraries proved to be overwhelming, NEH decided to increase the number to 1,000 Bookshelves per year.

The National Endowment for the Humanities gratefully acknowledges the support provided by the National Trust for the Humanities and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for its We the People "Courage" Bookshelf.

Chosen with the help of librarians and a blue-ribbon panel of historians and authorities on children's literature, the "We the People Bookshelf" encourages young people to read classic literature and explore the ideas and ideals of America. This year's blue-ribbon panel included:

  • Carla D. Hayden, president, American Library Association and director, Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, Md.);
  • Sybille Jagusch, chief, Children's Literature Center, Library of Congress;
  • David Macaulay, author, illustrator, National Humanities Medalist;
  • David McCullough, author, historian, 2003 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities;
  • Robert V. Remini, professor, historian, 2003 Heroes of History Lecturer; and
  • Morghan Transue, winner, 2003 NEH "Idea of America" Essay Contest.
Frederick Douglass

Little House on the Prairie

Red Badge of Courage

All the books were selected from Summertime Favorites, a list of recommended readings that represents NEH's long-standing effort to highlight classic literature for young people from kindergarten through high school.


Applications were accepted at two deadlines: Fall 2003 and Early Spring 2004

Find out more about the We the People on Freedom.

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