School's out, but the library was open yesterday at McCormick Elementary School.
A group of youngsters listened eagerly to a reading of Salt in his Shoes, a book about basketball great Michael Jordan. Then they colored paper sneakers, and listed their goals -- which for Chaquiera Wharton included playing on a basketball team, trying to earn straight A's and reading more than 30 books this year.
Chaquiera, an eighth-grader at Golden Ring Middle School, comes to McCormick Elementary every Wednesday with her sister and cousin. For the second year, the Rosedale school has opened its library one day a week during the summer break to encourage children to read.
"It's a way to ensure they still have books in their hands," said librarian Nicole Marcellino.
Principal Kevin M. Lindsey said about 400 pupils, parents and community members visited the elementary school's library this summer. That was double the number that came in the first year.
Lindsey said Featherbed Lane Elementary School, in the Woodlawn area, started a similar reading series out of its library on Tuesdays.
The libraries are kept open to allow children to continue reading as part of the Strive for 25 program, a county schools initiative to encourage every child in Baltimore County to read 25 books a year.
"Every book they read over the summer counts toward that goal," Lindsey said. "It's a great initiative. It just puts books and computers and technology into the hands of the kids."
For this year's sessions at McCormick Elementary, which ended yesterday, Lindsey enlisted the help of a daughter of one of the school's teachers. Aly Morris, working toward the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, chose to plan a reading program.
Morris, a 17-year-old student from Maryvale Preparatory School, organized books and activities to go along with themes, such as mysteries or animals. Yesterday's theme was "Sports, Sports, Sports."
Salt in his Shoes was about Michael Jordan's disciplined practice habits. It explained that the basketball star was inspired to perfect his game, in part, because his mother put salt in his shoes and told him that it would help him grow tall.
After the reading, youngsters ranging in age from 3 to 13 colored the paper sneakers and finished the sentence "I will ..." with their aspirations.
Quasia Muriel, 9, wrote on her shoe that she will try hard to get A's on all her tests, practice her basketball and "be the best person I can be." Once the children finished decorating their shoes, they cut them out, put salt inside and sealed them shut with glue.
Quasia said she likes to read, mostly mysteries, but enjoys what else the library has to offer.
"I like how we get to make crafts, go on the computers and just have a lot of fun," she said.
When she was done with her craft yesterday, she had time to read.
Almeta Nixon's nephews then went on the computer with Marcellino, the librarian.
Six-year-old Paris Moore and Christopher Becker, 5, enjoy the computer games and activities while Montray Moore, 3, likes looking at picture books, Nixon said. She said the program is good for more than its entertainment value.
"It keeps their mind going through the summer," she said, "so they don't lose what they learned from the last year."