It was a story time like any other Tuesday morning at the main York County Library in Rock Hill.
Peppy volunteers read books to children and their parents. A few young ones cried, a few older ones got a little distracted.
But then, one of the readers asked for a special volunteer and out from behind a wall came a giant garnet bird all decked out in a University of South Carolina jersey.
Cocky, the school mascot, was at the library.
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Cocky and his assistants came to Rock Hill on “Cocky’s Reading Express” bus, which is run by the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. The bus travels across the state, visiting libraries to entertain children, handing out free books and encouraging literacy.
“He did funny things,” said Lillianne Carter, 3, who was proudly wearing her South Carolina cheerleader uniform for the first time.
Her little sister, Evelyn, 15 months, was wearing a dress with garnet and black polka dots and pointed to Cocky and said his name. She only knows a handful of words, said her mother, Meghan, and “Cocky” is one of them.
“This was so great,” Meghan Carter said of the story time and the meet-and-greet afterward.
By encouraging summer reading, parents can help combat the “summer slide,” said program coordinator Christine Shelek. “Summer slide” is the term many educators use to describe the learning loss that can occur during summer vacation, particularly in reading skills.
This was the second time Cocky’s Reading Express made a stop in Rock Hill. The bus was here two years ago, said Diane Williams, children and teens services manager for the York County Library.
“Its wonderful to have USC here with Cocky’s Reading Express,” Williams said.
When asked what Cocky taught him during the special story time, Bohde Rawdon, 4, crowed, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” Bohde was carrying his new book and, of course, wearing a South Carolina hat.