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We the People Grant - Pursuit of Happiness

We the People Logo

The Bookshelf | Book Exhibit | Young Adult Parent/Teen Book Discussion Group
Essay Contest Winners
Teen Essay Contest Award Ceremony

The Henry Waldinger Memorial Library was awarded a 2007/2008 "We the People Bookshelf Grant - Pursuit of Happiness " from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Activities for this grant included a book discussion program, an exhibit, and an essay contest for secondary school students.

Pursuit of Happiness Logo

The Bookshelf

The Pursuit of Happiness Bookshelf includes the following titles:

Grades K-3
Aesop's Fables, by Aesop
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton

Grades 4-6
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
The Great Migration, by Jacob Lawrence
These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Journal of Wong Ming-Chung, by Laurence Yep

Grades 7-8
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham

Grades 9-12
Kindred, by Octavia Butler
O Pioneers, by Willia Cather
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Common Sense, by Thomas Paine

Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Young Adult Parent/Teen Book Discussion Group

The Henry Waldinger Memorial Library's Young Adult Parent/Teen Book Discussion Group read and discussed Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, on Friday, May 9, 2008.

Photo of Esperanza Rising Cover

Esperanza Ortega possesses all the treasures a young girl could want: fancy dresses; a beautiful home filled with servants in the bountiful region of Aguascalientes , Mexico ; and the promise of one day rising to Mama's position and presiding over all of Rancho de las Rosas. But a sudden tragedy shatters that dream, forcing Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp.  There they confront the challenges of hard work, acceptance by their own people, and economic difficulties brought on by the Great Depression.  When Mama falls ill from Valley Fever and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must relinquish her hold on the past and learn to embrace a future ripe with the riches of family and community. Pam Muñoz Ryan eloquently portrays the Mexican workers' plight in this abundant and passionate novel that gives voice to those who have historically been denied one. Scholastic Press


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Book Exhibit

The Henry Waldinger Memorial Library displayed the titles in the "Pursuit of Happiness" Bookshelf in the Adult Room showcases in February 2008 and May 2008. "Pursuit of Happiness" bookmarks were also distributed to patrons throughout February 2008 through May 2008.

Photo of Pursuit of Happiness Book Display
Photo of Pursuit of Happiness Book Display
Photo of Pursuit of Happiness Book Display

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Essay Contest Winners

Essay Question:

What does happiness mean to you?

Students in Grades 6-12 were invited to submit an essay between 250 and 1,000 words to answer this question. Essays were judged on both style and content. Some of the criteria that were used to judge the essays were originality, voice, style and mechanics, and organization.

Essay Contest Winners
1st Place
Kristen Wraith, South High School, Grade 10
2nd Place
Ryan Gleason, South High School, Grade 12
3rd Place
Barbara Badio, North High School, Grade 7


Sabrina Ahmed, Memorial Junior High School, Grade9
Dhruv Sehgal, South High School, Grade 8


1st Place Essay - Kristen Wraith

"What is happiness?" is a question that has a million answers. To me, it does not come from material goods, wealth, popularity, or power. No, my happiness is different. To me, it is spending time with my family. The time we spend together on vacation in my opinion, is the best happiness available. Whether camping, driving cross country, going on a cruise, or driving a half-hour for a weekend at my grandparent's house, they bring me a level of joy that I can not get anywhere else.

Happiness is sitting on folding chairs around a fire, wrapped up in a blanket, telling ghost stories while roasting marshmallows. To me that is the perfect trip, during which I get my greatest and most powerful memories. My family will never forget the time we drove upstate to go camping one Columbus Day weekend, only to run into six hours of traffic and a thunderstorm so serious we couldn't set up camp and had to sleep in the car. That night was one of the greatest ever. We sat in the back of our conversion van, wrapped in quilts, watching "Mystery Men" and looking as the rain water flooded our camp site. I remember just how happy I was sitting in the glow of the TV in the back of the car beteween my two parents and I thought, "Life can't get any better than this." those precious times are happiness.

Two summers ago, my family planned a month long adventure from New York to California, hitting up all of the national landmarks along the way. We left at 2:30 a.m. My brother and I climbed into the back seat of the car, planning to sleep, only to let excitement take over, preventing us from getting a wink. The glow and anticipation I felt that morning was too great for words. That day, we drove for twenty-two hours, all of the way to Minnesota. Even though we had been up all day, I was a happy to be setting off on vacation that nothing could hurt my spirits. That month, free of TV, the computer and all of the other things that I had depended on at home, I would consider the best month of my life. Camping across the country with my family was an amazing experience and the pictures we took are looked at more frequently than any others. That time for me is true happiness.

Some people don't understand me. They ask why I don't hang out late on Friday nights or go to the mall on Saturdays. I do not because that is my family time. I will always have fond memories from my weekends as a child, and the memories I have are priceless. The corn-maze races on Halloween, trips to the zoo and days in the city all are time spent with my family when I was so happy with where I was in life. The happiness my family members bring me is unlike any other. As an adult, I will always miss the innocence and happiness I had during childhood. I love to look back through photo albums of everything I have done with my mommy, daddy, and brother. Although we fight, we are happiest when we are together.

My mom always says "Life is too short to spend it with people you don't like." In my case, I am lucky because I love the people that are close to me. We understand each other. We talk, we sit and watch movies while eating over-buttered popcorn. We camp, we drive, we watch the stars at night. We laugh at each others' jokes and we do not get tired of each other. We are a family. If that isn't happiness, then I don't know what is.

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Teen Essay Contest Award Ceremony

On Monday, January 28, 2008, the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library held an Award Ceremony to honor the winners of the Teen Essay Contest. Mayor Edward Cahill presented award certificates and prizes to the winning teens.

Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony
Photo from Award Ceremony

Contact Ms. Eng at hwmlcontact@hotmail.com if you wish the JPEG of the full-size version of any photo sent to your e-mail address.


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©2005 Henry Waldinger Memorial Library - Revised 05/28/2008