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‘This is the most excited I’ve seen him in a while’: Carroll libraries welcome back kids for summer in-person activities

While children and parents sat on the floor along the room’s perimeter at the Eldersburg Public Library, Barrett Weatherholt, 2, ran around in the open space between the audience and librarian flapping his arms, grinning and laughing while everyone else was singing nursery rhymes.

“It’s been a while since he’s been around probably this many kids,” his dad, Steve Weatherholt, said as he watched his son run back into his mom’s arms. “This is the most excited I’ve seen him in a while.”

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Jaclyn Dragon of Sykesville watches as her 2-year-old son Barrett runs back to her with excitement his eyes, getting the opportunity to interact with a group of children, during a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Jaclyn Dragon of Sykesville watches as her 2-year-old son Barrett runs back to her with excitement his eyes, getting the opportunity to interact with a group of children, during a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Parents and about 30 children sang along to “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Old MacDonald” and “Wheels on the Bus” on Tuesday during the summer singalong event. It’s part of Carroll County Public Libraries’ summer programs that made its return to in-person activities just recently. The pandemic had caused last summer’s activities to be held online.

Carroll County Public Library announced that as of June 14, it would expand its branch hours to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. It also started its summer reading program. Families can use an app or sign up on the library’s website to participate and log reading and activity hours where prizes can be won.

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“What we aim to do is offer an array of activities,” Lisa Picker, the libraries’ communication director, said about in-person and virtual activities. Some of the activities include a virtual fitness class, Zen gardens and scavenger hunts.

Leading the singalongs on Tuesday was library assistant Patsy Linville.

“Last summer, we had nothing,” she said, adding they offered online options. “I missed families and little people and the interaction with them.”

Two of the little people Tuesday were two-year-old twins Noah and Jack Campognone wearing matching dinosaur shoes and accompanied by their grandparents.

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“It’s a little change of pace,” Paul Campognone, their grandfather, said.

He said the twins like to sing and read stories, and their grandmother makes up stories for them.

Paul and Karen Campognone interact with their 2-year-old grandkids Noah, left, and Jack as they take part in a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Paul and Karen Campognone interact with their 2-year-old grandkids Noah, left, and Jack as they take part in a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Also in attendance was four-year-old Mackenzie and her two-year-old brother, Ethan Smith. They were hanging out with their mom, Kate Smith, before the program started.

“I used to teach pre-K and kindergarten and I feel that the social interaction and literary skills are very important,” she said. “They really liked the movement and interactive stories.”

Kate Smith added it’s good to be out in public again. Her daughter held up a Halloween-themed Peppa Pig book she said she liked while Kate’s son was holding the book “Dino Duckling” by Alison Murray.

Kate Smith of Sykesville and her children Ethan, 2, and Mackenzie, 4, participate in a song during a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Kate Smith of Sykesville and her children Ethan, 2, and Mackenzie, 4, participate in a song during a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Linville had the group pat their heads and rub their bellies at the start of the event just before playing the song “Wheels on the Bus.” The kids used the hand movements that matched the lyrics. Parents were singing as well, or moving the hands of the babies who haven’t mastered motor skills yet.

Linville then sang along to the rhyme “Five Little Ducks” from a book illustrated by Pamela Paparone. And the parents, who seemed to know the words better than the children, sang along.

“They’re animals in my bag, they’re from old MacDonald’s farm,” Linville said before “Old McDonald” started playing.

“And on his farm he had a … ” she and group said before she pulled out the stuffed animal that determined the next lyrics. First came a stuffed dog, a pig, then a duck.

As the singing and dancing continued, some kids moved closer to Linville or utilized the space to run back and forth to their parents.

Amarachi Chukwuka-Eze, a soon-to-be kindergartner, sat in the center when she arrived singing and mimicking Linville’s movements during the interactive songs.

“It was great,” Chukwuka-Eze said about the program afterward.

Amarachi Chukwuka-Eze, left, and Mackenzie Smith are joined by a room of other children and their families as they participate in a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Amarachi Chukwuka-Eze, left, and Mackenzie Smith are joined by a room of other children and their families as they participate in a Summer Storytime at the Eldersburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

After the 30 minutes of singalong, parents could bring home an arts and crafts project for the kids to do at home.

This was the fourth week the program has been offered, Linville said.

“I missed it a lot,” she said afterward. “I didn’t realize that I did until the first one and I was crying at the end.”

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