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Grownup pols, children’s literature

If you spot any local government officials immersed in a children’s book in coming days, resist the urge to wisecrack about the collective IQ of our public servants.

They’re probably just cramming for next Thursday’s meeting of a joint book club created by the Brooke Charter School in East Boston and Eliot K-8 Innovation School in the North End. School officials have invited about a dozen public officials to lead discussions with students, which explains why “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez is now bedtime reading for the State House set.

The young adult novel explores the experiences of recent immigrants to the United States, a story school leaders thought would resonate with many students. Many of the officials invited are black or Latino because “we want to show these kids that successful adults who look like them like to read, and that reading can be a lifetime enjoyment, not just something middle school ELA teachers try to get you to do,” said Scott Knox, chief development officer for the Brooke charter school network, which also has campuses in Roslindale and Mattapan.


Confirmed invitees include: state education commissioner Mitchell Chester, Boston economic development chief John Barros, Boston education chief Rahn Dorsey, inspectional services assistant commissioner Tomas Gonzalez, Office of New Bostonians director Alejandra St. Guillen, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and state Representatives Alice Peisch, Adrian Madaro and Aaron Michlewitz.

Senator Anthony Petruccelli will also be there, although as of Memorial Day weekend he was only a third of the way through the book, which he blamed in part on repeatedly getting home from work at midnight during last week’s Beacon Hill budget debates.

“Probably,” Petruccelli replied when asked if he expected to be racing till the very last minute to finish the novel, “but that’s how I was as a student anyway, so it’s kind of fitting!”

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SachaPfeiffer.