Suffolk rises in storm of stories

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The winds of winter couldn’t slow down Suffolk readers, who dominated the Suffolk Public library’s 8,000-book goal in January by reading 9,916 in total throughout the month.

Readers plowed through nearly 10,000 books for the second annual Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge. It was another successful January for readers young and old in Suffolk, after they more than doubled the library’s goal of 3,000 books read during the challenge last year.

“It feels like we can do anything in Suffolk,” Community Relations Coordinator Angie Sumner said. “We keep raising the bar and our community keeps knocking it out of the park.”

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The Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge was once again held by software company Zoobean and “Shark Tank” billionaire investor Mark Cuban. Cuban challenged 250 schools and libraries across the country to meet a collective goal of reading for at least 5 million minutes and 75,000 books in January.

Cuban pledged to donate $35,000 to the top-performing libraries and schools if this goal is achieved. As of Tuesday, the Suffolk Public Library has not been notified about the winners. The library was one of last year’s finalists and received $1,500 from Cuban and Beanstack.

This year, 805 readers had registered to log books in January, and 440 of them read at least four different books, according to Sumner. The top reading age was 3-year-olds with 140 books that were logged by youngsters, largely from storytime sessions at each branch in Suffolk.

The top performing schools based on number of participants were Florence Bowser Elementary School with 96 readers and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy with 76. Specialist Renee Johnson’s class at Creekside Elementary School was the top classroom in the city and will receive books and other supplies for outstanding readership.

Each community member also received an entry into a grand prize drawing for every book logged. The three winners won a shopping spree at the Friends of the Suffolk Library bookstore. Garrison Gragg also won for ages 0-to-5 and will receive a tech-themed literacy fun pack.

The Friends of the Suffolk Library also donated funds for the library to purchase a new drone that will be used for demonstrations and programs this spring, such as a drone club meetup, Sumner said.

“We’re currently training staff on it so we can incorporate it into other types of programs and opportunities,” she said.