‘The Great Greene Heist’ kicks of CLSC Young Readers 

Getting kids excited about books and celebrating that excitement has always been what CLSC Young Readers has been about. With a revamped approach and renewed focus this year, the program kicks off for the summer at 12:15 p.m. today on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Week One’s CLSC Young Readers selections, like the ones in the “grown-up” Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, are connected to the theme of “The Evolution of the Modern Presidency,” and allow younger readers, no matter the reading level, to explore various experiences with voting and politics.

“The reinvigorated CLSC Young Readers program is inspired by our previous discussion and activity programming, which has been on hiatus since 2020, and (Michael I. Rudell Artistic Director of Literary Arts) Kwame Alexander’s educational work in children’s literature,” said Manager of Literary Arts Stephine Hunt.

Hunt, with Chautauquan Holly Martineau, will lead this week’s discussion on the CLSC Young Readers books The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson, and the picture book Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, by Nikki Grimes with illustrations by Bryan Collier, which was selected for even younger young readers. Staff started selecting two books at different reading levels a couple of years ago, Hunt said. With a book geared toward early readers, as well as a middle-grade or young adult book, Hunt and her colleagues can facilitate a full-age reading experience for young Chautauquans.

The main focus of today’s discussion  will be The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. The Great Greene Heist, which was featured in Chautauqua’s Battle of the Books competition in May, explores politics in middle school, touching on themes of justice, teamwork and friendship. The protagonist, Jackson Greene, comes up with an elaborate plan to prevent an unjust student council election process and help his crush Gaby de la Cruz get elected for student council president against Keith Sinclair, who is trying to rig the elections.

If time allows, Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope will also be tied into the discussion. The book is a simplified version of Obama’s memoir that younger readers can learn from and enjoy, Hunt said, but the main focus each week will be on the middle-grade books because of their “capacity to generate curriculum or activities that parents, educators, librarians, and childrens’ literature enthusiasts can all engage with.”

Immediately following today’s discussion will be a Play CHQ event at 1:15 p.m. on the Alumni Hall lawn, weather depending, filled with fun reading and writing activities for kids of all ages. Today, kids will do a collective writing, where they will be given three prompts that they can add their sentences and ideas to, and will end up forming a creative story they all contributed to and are excited about.

Tags : Barack Obama: Son of Promise Child of HopeBryan CollierChautauqua Literary and Scientific CircleCLSCCLSC Young ReadersNikki GrimesThe Evolution of the Modern PresidencyThe Great Greene HeistVarian Johnson

The author Sabine Obermoller