Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM With the general election less than a month away, many Americans are thinking about their patriotic duty to vote. At the Wilbraham Public Library, young readers are thinking about the theme established by the "We the People" Bookshelf's theme, the American ideal of being "Created Equal."
This is the fifth year the children's department at the library has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the "We the People" bookshelf. The bookshelf received 17 titles in English, four in Spanish and "History in a Box on Abraham Lincoln" as a bonus kit.
Elaine Wrubel, head of children's services, said she thought the collection of books was "excellent," especially in this political climate.
"The books have such timely themes," Wrubel noted. Some of the titles include "Aesop's Fables," "Amistad" by David Pesci, "Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott" by Russell Freedman and "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Anderson. Also included in English and in Spanish are "Breaking Through" by Francisco Jimenez, "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, "Lyddie" by Katherine Paterson and "Pink and Say" by Patricia Polacco.
Wrubel said the books have been available to library visitors since May. "Many of them are classics that people seek out," she explained. "They're welcomed by teachers and appropriate for kindergartners through adults. There's a great variety within [the bookshelf]. It's cool to have such a diverse selection."
Each year, the NEH identifies a theme important to the nation's heritage and selects books that embody that theme for the bookshelf, according to the "We the People" Web site (www.wethepeople.gov).
The books chosen for the bookshelf might highlight important chapters in American history or express universal ideals that are integral parts of American culture.
"The books are intended to represent the rich texture of the American heritage, a tradition that has incorporated ideas and texts from around the world," the site stated.
The selections are chosen by members of the American Library Association (ALA). Wrubel said she was thankful for the "excellent partnership between the ALA and the NEH."
In the past, themes for the bookshelf have included "Courage," "Freedom," "Becoming American" and "Pursuit of Happiness." Next year's theme is "Picturing America," which Wrubel said the library will be applying for.
"It uses literature as a window into the ideals and character of the nation," she said.
To learn more about the Wilbraham Public Library and to learn when the library is open, visit www.wilbrahamlibrary.org.