Turning Pages with Turner Family

VBPL program helps 7-year-old read beyond her age level, and more


Eliza and Emilia Turner at Princess Anne Library in 2018. The sisters have participated in the Summer Reading Challenge for two years.

Jolynn Turner has lived in Virginia Beach for several years with her husband and two daughters. But it wasn't until relatively recently that she discovered Virginia Beach Public Library.

"I'm kicking myself that we didn't start utilizing the library sooner," she says.

Last year at Princess Anne Area Library, Turner and her daughters Eliza and Emilia came across a table surrounded by children. Teenage volunteers were asking children about the books they had read, then letting them spin a prize wheel to win books, toys and gift certificates.

Eliza and Emilia were eager to join the fun.

"They got such a kick out of the freebies," Turner says. "They're excited about toy dinosaurs and toy cars. And free passes."

The Summer Reading Challenge encourages youth to log the names of books and other reading materials, and win prizes and badges along the way. At the end of the summer, youth and teens celebrate their achievements at parties at the Virginia Aquarium. The challenge is funded by Friends of Virginia Beach Public Library and by the Virginia Beach Library Foundation.

Turner's children have enjoyed scores of books this summer, including "I'm Trying to Love Spiders," and several titles from the series, "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Finley Flowers."

True to its name, the program conquers learning loss – commonly called "summer slide" – by challenging children to read books at and above their reading level. Everything counts in the challenge: magazines, long books, short books, comic books – they can even listen to audio books.  

"My 7-year-old – she has definitely been a struggling reader," Turner says. "She can read, but is slower to start. This has definitely encouraged her to make it a point to read a book or a couple of books on her level, every day. Also, she has tried to challenge herself to read books above her level."

Reading comes naturally to Turner's 5-year-old, but the Summer Reading Challenge has put her love of reading into overdrive.

 "This has caused her to use the library a lot," Turner says. "We max out our book allotment. Every visit, we check out 30 books a time."

The library's computer tablets, loaded with teaching tools, are also a favorite.

"While I'm looking for specific books for them, they love going to the iPads," Turner says. "They've learned a lot from the games on them."

A world without libraries would be sad, Turner says.

"We home-school, so we definitely take advantage of a lot of the programs," Turner says. "It's been beneficial to us."

For people who haven't been to any of Virginia Beach's 10 library locations, Turner recommends they go to the VBPL website and learn about the many services and activities, which will help them plan their visit.

"There are so many opportunities for programs and different resources that you didn't realize the library could assist with," she says.

It doesn't take long for the library to become a favorite family destination.

"The libraries have been phenomenal," Turner says. "Our kids always look forward to going."

For more information, visit the websites for Virginia Beach Public Library, Friends of Virginia Beach Public Library and the Virginia Beach Library Foundation. ​

Contact Information