The books will be sent to 10,000 primary school libraries throughout the Middle East, and the programme funded by US President George W. Bush’s “Middle East Partnership Initiative.”

“The programme is intended to encourage independent reading, thinking, and analytical skills in young readers; train teachers; engage parents and local communities in the support of independent reading,” the State Department said.

The government announcement appeared in the Federal Register. Though there was no specific mention of content, it called for books of high quality and said they would be vetted for “cultural appropriateness.”

The initiative called for some 40 titles to be produced.