The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
by: Alice Ozma
Grand Central Publishing
Copyright: May, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I must confess I have not thoroughly read this book. My mind has been pre-occupied with Paris plans and I simply have not made the time to sit down and read it as thoroughly as I would like. Since it is a new release, I do not have the option to renew my hold because there are others in line waiting their turn. So I decided to skim the book quickly to see if it was one that I would be interested in checking out again when I have more time. It most definitely is!
The premise of the book, for those who don’t know, is the real-life story of Alice Ozma and her father, Jim Brozina, an elementary school librarian, and the promise they made to one another the he would read aloud to her every night for a period of 1,000 days. Initially her father thought this was too lofty a goal, but they both made the commitment and in the end — they read a little over nine years: every single night! No matter how late they got home – or how early they had to wake up the next morning – “the reading streak” was a priority in both their lives.
This book is not only a touching father/daughter relationship that continues to grow and prosper long after most teenagers distance themselves from their parents – but it is also a story that brings to mind personal regrets in my own life.
I began reading to each of my three children from the time they were able to hold their head up in the infant seat – about three months old. I had all shapes and sizes of cardboard books that they could “read” without tearing – as well as picture books that “mommy would hold” We had our favorites that we would read nearly every night, like Barn Dance and Goodight Moon, and The Tooth Gnasher Super Flash, and we always read at least one Berenstain Bears book that would give me the opportunity to teach a life lesson. We all fondly remember this nightly ritual.
But when my children entered first grade and were learning to read on their own, I decided that I needed to take a backseat. I mean after all, how could they learn to read on their own if they relied on me to do it for them? That was my belief anyway. And so I am the one who halted the bedtime reading routine. I am the one who said you are too old for this. I am the one who thought they were too lazy to read themselves – and I never gave it a though that perhaps they just wanted to spend that time together – bonding like we had done when they were younger.
Alice’s book has shown me what a big mistake I have made. I did not have all the right answers, and this is one area where my answer was devastating. To this day, two out of my three children dislike reading and I take full responsibility.
So while I cannot rectify past mistakes – I will try not to repeat them. As Brynn grows up and we share our weekly visits to the library (yes, I have already planned these special outings) I will vow not to stop reading aloud to her until she makes that decision. And if she is like Alice — then I will be reading aloud to her on the day of her high school graduation.