By Joel Hall
This week, the Clayton County Library System, along with seven other libraries in the 13th Congressional District, were awarded the "We the People Bookshelf," a collection of classic novels and children's books which promote equality.
The books were procured from the "We the People" Program, a partnership between the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
This year, the "We the People" Program awarded the collection of 17 books to 3,000 libraries in the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. NEH chairman Bruce Cole said the collection gives young readers a unique window into the history of America's modern-day freedoms.
"The 'We the People Bookshelf' introduces young readers to important literature and promotes the understanding of vital ideas in our nation's history," said Cole in a released statement. "Through the power of these stories, millions of young readers will have the opportunity to examine the central tenet of our American identity ... that all human beings are created equal."
The titles include an illustrated novelette of "The Gettysburg Address," by Abraham Lincoln, "Give Me Liberty!: The Story of the Declaration of Independence," by Russell Freedman, "Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom," by Virginia Hamilton, "Flowers for Algernon," by Daniel Keyes, and "Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott," by Russell Freedman. Each book bears the emblem "Created Equal" on the inside cover.
The collection, retail valued at over $2,000, also contains a "History in a Box Kit" on Abraham Lincoln. The kit includes primary source documents, maps, artwork, songs, and other teaching resources on CD-ROM and DVD formats.
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-GA) praised the collection and said it would be a vital addition to the Clayton County Library System.
"Literature has the ability to teach our nation's history in a way children of all ages can appreciate and understand," said Scott. The collection, "encourages students to explore our nation's history, and exposes them to books that both address the concept of equality and recount the periods of our history which tested the declaration that all men are created equal."
Carol Stewart, director of library services for the Clayton County Library System, said the books are of "high quality" and the titles themselves "have stood the test of time." She believes Clayton County students will be able to utilize the books in their course work.
"Even thoughtful people need to learn about the basic concepts that this country has been founded on," said Stewart. "I know that some of these [books] will be utilized by kids to do school assignments. Some of the younger children will get a concept of freedom when they read them."
The books will be available at the Headquarters Library in Jonesboro and the branch libraries in Jonesboro, Morrow, Forest Park, Riverdale, and Hampton (Lovejoy).