Chatsworth School media specialist Nancy Braverman has come up with an odd, but delightful recipe: pork and buttermilk.
It was a rewarding recipe -- a reward for her pupils' accomplishment in reading 1,350 books during the summer break.
"I wanted to do something to really excite my kids about reading over the summer, some sort of incentive," said Braverman, who challenged pupils at the school in Reisterstown to read at least 1,000 books during the vacation.
Her idea? Bathe a pig in buttermilk as Mrs. Zuckerman does to Wilbur in E. B. White's "Charlotte's Web." She read from the book, then turned her attention to a 45-pound piglet named Parke.
It lapped up the milky mixture as Braverman sponged away, and the children giggled.
"I thought it was great that she washed the pig, but I wanted her to take the sponge and really scrub it," said 10-year-old Rachel Cronauer, who read 13 books during her summer vacation.
In addition to watching their teacher wash Parke, Chatsworth children got another reward -- a 2-foot-high trophy from the Baltimore County public library. So did Padonia International, Catonsville, Gunpowder and Edgemere elementaries. Those schools had the highest participation among pupils in the library system's Summer Reading Program.
Library officials say that participation in the program -- 26,015 children enrolled -- was its highest since 1992, the year before budget cuts forced the closure of eight limited-service libraries.
The summer contest was a first and will be continued, said Pam Henderson, library programming coordinator. Each year, pupils at elementary schools will compete for the trophies, which will rotate among contest winners.
"We liked the idea of the contest and the trophies because we wanted to do something to really motivate the children to read," Henderson said. "We wanted the trophies to be big and colorful to get them excited."
At Chatsworth, Braverman is brainstorming for a new way to get her students to read -- and keep the reading trophy for a second year.
"I'm thinking about a camel, something to go with a theme of 'Arabian Nights,' " she said. "I might make a call to the Baltimore Zoo."
Pub Date: 9/19/99