Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Book Review - The Reading Promise: My Father and The Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
For Alice Ozma, having her dad, a single father who was also an elementary school librarian, read to her at night was one constant routine that she treasured, especially after her parents divorced. When she was in the fourth grade,
and her dad decided to try and see if they could read for one hundred nights straight without missing a night, and they did. But when they reached their goal, neither one really wanted to stop, so they continued what they dubbed “The Streak,” a tradition that would eventually reach 3, 218 consecutive nights that ended only when Alice went away to college. Alice
In her book, ‘The Reading Promise: My Father And The Books We Shared,”
reveals how the reading tradition shaped her life, and how it also affected the life of her father, in ways they never anticipated. Through a series of short stories, Ozma tells how books and time spent with her dad influenced her life, and provided comfort, laughter, and most importantly love, - gifts that she continues to carry with her into adulthood Alice
Poignantly written, “The Reading Promise” is a beautiful love letter from a child to her parent as Ozma shares how the simple act of reading would become such an endearing bond for her and her father.
The book is also a tale of how important reading should be in every child’s life, and how endangered the idea is becoming. After Alice went off to college, her father Jim Brozina’s job as school librarian in Millville, New Jersey, came under fire after it was decided by school administrators in his district that Brozina was reading aloud “too often” to his students, and that he should limit the reading time to 5-10 minutes a class period and devote the rest of the time to computer time. After fighting long and hard to convince officials that reading aloud was important for the kids at the at-risk school where he had taught for decades, and being told that the decision to limit reading time would stand, Brozina retired. The next week, all of the books were removed from both of the libraries he oversaw and were replaced with all computers.
Ozma includes this particular life story to be both a rallying cry to bring attention to the problems facing libraries in schools today as well as an encouragement for parents to take up the task of making sure their children benefit from the joys of reading, and being read to. For parents who want to start their own Reading Streaks, she includes a “reading promise” guide plus a list of all the books she and her father both enjoyed during their years of reading together.
As a child whose father read to her every night, “The Reading Promise” was a joy to savor as it brought back many great memories of being read to, by my parents and by teachers who loved to share the love of books. Books can open the world, and Alice Ozma reminds her readers of that very promise in this delightful memoir.