BREWSTER, Minn. — February is I Love to Read Month, but a rural Brewster, Minn., woman has inspired a year-round joy of reading in her three children.

Nancy Stude borrowed 1,640 items from the Nobles County Library in Worthington, Minn., in 2020 — despite the library’s temporary closure early last spring, then curb-side service, and finally reduced hours of operation.

It was the most items checked out by a single library card holder in the county library’s system.

A couple of times each week, Nancy brings her son and two daughters to the library, where they each peruse the book shelves in search of their favorite subjects, characters and series. Four-year-old Emma grabs a stack of “My Little Pony” books, while 6-year-old Collin is a fan of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. Eight-year-old Madelyn searches for "Rainbow Magic" and "Unicorn Diaries."

“We usually have 50 books checked out at a time — that’s with books on CD and movies, too,” Nancy said.

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The family, which includes husband Curt, began fostering a love of reading when their children were quite young. Nancy would bring them in for Story Time each Wednesday, and it just became part of their routine to visit the library when they were in Worthington. Many times, Curt has stopped in while running errands in town to pick up books that have arrived through the Plum Creek Library System’s interlibrary loan program.

“If I can’t find it at the Nobles County Library, I just look for it online and do an interlibrary loan from another library,” Nancy said.

As interests change among her children, Nancy said she looks for books through the loan program on everything from trucks to dinosaurs for Collin, and series books for Madelyn.

For I Love to Read Month at Brewster Elementary, both Madelyn and Collin are keeping a reading log and recording each book they finish. Both Madelyn and Collin have been top readers in their class.

“My oldest, we have to tell her to put a book down,” Nancy shared, adding that Madelyn would read during family meal time if they’d let her. “Our youngest grabs books because her siblings do.”

At home, the Studes transformed Collin’s closet into a book nook where the kids can go in, shut the door and have some quiet time to read.

“We have books throughout the house,” Nancy said. “I try to keep the library books in the same area so we don’t lose them.”

Having made reading part of the routine at home, Nancy said the kids are constantly learning, whether it’s vocabulary or concentration.

“I found as they were growing up that sitting down with them — sometimes all of the kids, or one on one, it helps them to concentrate and listen,” she said. “I asked a teacher what the best way was to teach my kids to read and she said, ‘Just read to them.’

“I think books — when I get them in our routine — I can tell my kids are more relaxed,” she added. “It gives them time to do something for themselves and engage without being in front of the screen.”

As a parent, Nancy said books have opened up topics for discussion with her kids, and helped teach them about proper behavior. She also measures their reading comprehension by quizzing them about a book she’s just read to them.

As an avid reader herself — typically opting for books that are educational or motivational, while cookbooks and those about parenting are also favorites — Nancy recently joined an online book club and has expanded her interests to include historical fiction.

“I’ve committed to reading the Bible this year,” she said. “I also read devotionals. I get books on personal development and things to help sharpen my parenting skills.”

As for their library visits, Nancy said her kids usually get 10 minutes to find books that they want to borrow, and then they peruse the movie section. Books on CD are also a popular choice.

“If there’s a new Disney movie out, usually there’s a book on CD about it,” Nancy said. “The kids are pretty intrigued about the books on CD.”

The Studes appreciate the easy access they have to a wide range of books at the library, and Nancy said the staff knows her by name and are always willing to help her find something.

“It’s nice to know there are no limits on the books that you check out,” she said. “The local library has new books out every week, it seems.”