If 13-year-old William Haslett stacked up all the books he’s read this year, it would be taller than him.
That’s what Valerie Haslett said of her son, who is one of five young Chautauquans to receive the CLSC Young Readers medallion this year.
The medallion program mimics the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, in that a reward is given to children who read 16 books from the program’s historic book list, including Jeffrey Simpson’s Chautauqua: An American Utopia.
“We’re super proud of him, that’s for sure,” Haslett said. “Sometimes we have to tell him to stop reading.”
Haslett and her father graduated from the CLSC this year, which is one reason she encouraged William to go for the medallion this year. But with the exception of helping him through some of Simpson’s book, the hard work and credit all goes to William himself.
“I feel pretty accomplished,” William said. “I feel like I can do anything now.”
The other recipients of this year’s medallion are Ava and Greta Dargel, Anna Gillespie, and Peregrine Todd.
Kelly Dargel, Ava and Greta’s mother, said her daughters have always been avid readers. Dargel and her husband have been reading out loud to their children since they were babies, instilling a love for literature that their daughters embraced.
“We’ve been fortunate as parents that we have not had to force our kids to sit down and read each day,” Dargel said. “We often have the opposite problem of having to tell them to take their noses out of their books and get to schoolwork.”
Her daughters don’t go anywhere without a book in their hands, Dargel said. Not even the grocery store.
Greta, 12, said it was nice to receive the medallion, but she would have read the books anyway. Her favorite was The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood, which she said was “exciting and had lots of unexpected twists.”
Her 11-year-old sister preferred The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
“It’s fun to read about other people’s adventures,” Ava said.
Peregrine Todd, 13, said her favorite book on the list was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — a shared favorite with William.
Both of the young readers went on to finish the rest of the Harry Potter series.
“I have always enjoyed reading,” Peregrine said. “Reading lets you get lost in other worlds. Books can make you laugh, cry, and learn about anything you want to.”