Langston Hughes work part of suggested summer reading list

— Poet Langston Hughes, novelist Stephen Crane and humorist and social commentator Mark Twain grace the recommended reading proposed Tuesday to help American youngsters learn more about their history and culture.

The recommended books feature themes of courage, with various titles proposed for readers from kindergarten through 12th grade.

It's part of a $100 million program sought by President Bush to teach youngsters more about their country.

The list includes both fiction and nonfiction, such as Frederick Douglass' own account of his rise from slavery, Crane's "Red Badge of Courage" and Twain's "Huckleberry Finn."

The shelf of 15 books will be offered to 500 libraries around the United States. The list was presented to 30 8- and 9-year-olds from Marie F. Reed School in Washington, at the residence of Vice President Richard Cheney.

"Reading is power," Lynne Cheney told the youngsters. A former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, she made the presentation with Bruce Cole, who now has the job and is in charge of the project.

She read a poem by Langston Hughes that begins "Hold fast to dreams" and asked the youngsters about their own dreams. One boy said he wanted to be an archaeologist.

"That's a great dream to have," she said, "and you can find out how things were a long time ago."

Another said he wanted to be president.

"I think you could be president," she commented. "But I also think that even if you just have a high goal like that and maybe only get to be vice president, it's OK."

This year's list includes:

  • Kindergarten through grade 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 Hobbitt" 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.

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