The reading promise my father and the books we shared
NPR Choice pagePlease choose whether or not you want other users to be able to see on your profile that this library is a favorite of yours. Finding libraries that hold this item My pick. A rare and triumphant story. Promise yourself to revisit what matters. In her love of books, and of her father, we see the most meaningful promises we might make to our own parents, our own children, and to ourselves. I am so envious of The Streak.
Alice Ozma, author of THE READING PROMISE, speaks at ALA
A father's gift of reading
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This is a sweet book. My dad read it aloud to me, which is fitting, given the subject. This is one of those books that it's really hard to review, so I'll just say that you should read it. I was expecting this to be a memoir of reading where it really was more a memoir of childhood with a father who read to the author a lot. It was good as the latter, but I never quite got over my Alice Ozma.
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By the time Alice Ozma was nine years old, she had gotten used to having her father read stories to her. But her father, an elementary school librarian, worried that pretty soon she would declare herself too old for stories, as her older sister did years before. So they made a pact: he would read to her every night for at least ten minutes, before midnight. They disagree on whether it started with a goal of one hundred days but it eventually increased to a thousand. Although it begins with the story of their reading pact, the book actually covers a lot of other things as well: celebrating thunderstorms and spiders, an irrational fear that JFK's corpse is below her on the bottom bunk, learning to ride a bike, shopping for a prom dress with a single father who just doesn't get it. There is tragedy, like when her mother leaves on Thanksgiving Day while her dad is out raking in the backyard. There is comedy — the way their cat prefers her dad's rough handling and verbal abuse to her own gentle and practiced petting.
It started on a train when she was little. Brozina promised to read to Ozma every night for days. The bond of the ritual — the way it defined their days and nights, brought them together and helped them examine their lives — meant too much to them to give up. So they stuck with it until it became a sacred pact. Their determination can be attributed to the fact that family life was not easy. As memoirs go, the book is uneven, clearly written by a young woman still searching for her voice and somewhat afraid to probe the dark, unattractive corners of experience that make memoirs truly memorable. He is also forbidden to read aloud to students, a development that leaves him drained and unhappy.