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Courage Bookshelf

The We the People Bookshelf enables younger readers to examine the meaning of courage from many perspectives. These books inspire readers with stories of characters, real and fictional, who demonstrated personal courage when faced with difficult situations in uncertain times.

—Bruce Cole, Chairman of the NEH

Grades K-3
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (J FIC FRITZ)
Ten-year-old Ann overcomes loneliness and learns to appreciate the importance of her role in settling the wilderness of western Pennsylvania.

Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott (E MCDER)
In trying to determine which of his six sons to reward for saving his life, Anansi the Spider is responsible for placing the moon in the sky.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (E STEIG)
In a moment of fright, Sylvester the donkey asks his magic pebble to turn him into a rock but then can not hold the pebble to wish himself back to normal again.

Grades 4-6
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes (J 811 HUGHE)
A collection of sixty-six poems, selected by the author for young readers, including lyrical poems, songs, and blues, many exploring the black experience.

The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds (J FIC EDMON)
In 1756, during the French and Indian War in upper New York state, ten-year-old Edward is determined to protect his home and family with the ancient, and much too heavy, Spanish gun that his father had given him before leaving home to fight the enemy.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (J FIC WILDE)
A family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a prairie fire.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (J FIC GEORG)
A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship

Grades 7-8
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (J FIC FORBE)
After injuring his hand, a silversmith’s apprentice in Boston becomes a messenger for the Sons of Liberty in the days before the American Revolution.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (DOUGLASS DOU)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (FIC TOLKE)
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.

Grades 9-12
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (FIC CRANE)
During his service in the Civil War a young Union soldier matures to manhood and finds peace of mind as he comes to grips with his conflicting emotions about war.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (FIC ELLIS)

Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy (923.273 KENNE)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (FIC TWAIN)
The adventures of a boy growing up in half-settled Missouri in the 1840’s who, with a runaway slave, floats down the Mississippi on a raft. Sequel to: Tom Sawyer.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (FIC LEE)
The explosion of racial hate in an Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.