MOORHEAD — Andrew Leech said his wife, Lisa, probably likes to read more than their 4-year-old daughter, Audrey.
"No, I like to read more," responded the young girl who has been recognized by the Moorhead Public Library for reading more than 2,000 books. She's not even in kindergarten yet.
She accomplished her feat through a nationwide program called "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" offered at the library. About 500 children are enrolled.
When taking a test just the other day, the couple found that their daughter was reading at the third or fourth grade level.
"We were amazed," Andrew Leech said.
The first 1,000 books were read to Audrey by her mom and grandparents before she was 14 months old, and she was recognized then through the library in 2017. She started reading at about age 3 and read another 1,000 books to reach the 2,000 book milestone.
"Sometimes, I make the stories come alive with my own voice," Audrey said. "I like to make different sounds and different voices when reading."
She also reads to her sister, 3-year-old Adelyn.
Lisa's mom was also an avid reader, so it's no wonder the family, who lives south of Moorhead, likes to read.
It's also true that Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, likes to read a lot. She was a voracious reader when she was younger, but it didn't seem to come quite as easily as it does for her daughter.
So, where did they get all the books?
The library has been one source, but they've also purchased a lot of books from thrift stores and through eBay.
Audrey said her favorite book is "The Digging-est Dog," and one reason for that is because she loves dogs.
Not only does she love her Australian Cattle Dog, Polly, but also the neighbor's dog, Dotty.
"She's a really nice dog," Audrey said, adding that her family doesn't even have cattle.
She likes a lot of other animals, too, and the 1,000th book she read on her own was "Calico the Wonder Horse."
"I've always wanted my own horse," said the youngster, who turns 5 in January, and who has told her mom she might like to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
The girl will start kindergarten in the fall, and the family doesn't know yet if they will do home-schooling or have their daughter attend school.
Either way, she's going to be way ahead of many other children in reading.
When asked, though, if she thinks all of the reading has made her smarter, Audrey didn't have an answer.
It was a little bit of humbleness from a girl who has accomplished a rare and impressive feat.
Megan Krueger, the library director, said many of the children enrolled in the program read the same book over and over, but that still counts. The program is a "movement of parents and caregivers to get children ready to read before kindergarten, creating the foundation of a lifetime of learning."
To enroll in the program, residents can pick up reading logs and a book bag at the library. When the 1,000 book goal is reached, the library awards a sticker and the recipient can visit the library to celebrate, although during the pandemic it's more difficult as only appointments are taken with curbside pickup. The program states reading is essential for children to combat poverty and crime.