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THE READING PROMISE by Alice Ozma

THE READING PROMISE

My Father and the Books We Shared

By Alice Ozma

Pub Date: May 31st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-58377-0
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Reading really was fundamental for a father and daughter team who made it their nightly ritual for eight straight years.

The author’s name—an amalgam of characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s Oz series—illustrates her profound passion for reading bookshelves of literature from childhood to well into adolescence. In 1997, plucky, headstrong Ozma and her father, an elementary-school librarian, began reading aloud to each other for 1,000 consecutive nights. Dubbed “The Streak,” it began when the author was in third grade and lasted 3,218 nights. Ozma’s father, a firm believer in the limitless power of books, was overjoyed (and pleasantly surprised) when they’d achieved their initial goal of 100 nights. But then Ozma determinedly upped the ante to 1,000 as their readings graduated from James and the Giant Peach to Shakespeare and Harry Potter. There were stringent “rules” to follow: They had to read for at least 10 minutes, before midnight, preferably in person, and books only—though “anything from magazines to baseball programs would do” in a pinch. Those days, Ozma fondly recalls, incorporated a playful and deeply unifying pastime shared with a man who became not only an interactive parent and friend, but a shoulder to lean on when inconvenience and calamity impeded their endeavors. But nothing could stop them—not the funeral in honor of her pet fish, nor her Dad’s laryngitis, nor the painful, physical separation of her mother, who moved out, nor her older sister’s absence as a foreign-exchange student. While all were painful memories that Ozma evokes with a hushed despondence, “The Streak” continued unabated until the author moved away to college, majoring in English, almost nine years later.   

A warm memoir and a gentle nudge to parents about the importance of books, quality time and reading to children.