The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. Alice Ozma. 2011. Hachette. 304 pages.
It started on a train. I am sure of it. The 3,218-night reading marathon that my father and I call The Streak started on a train to Boston, when I was in third grade.
The Reading Promise itself--the promise shared between this father and daughter--was quite simple. The father would read aloud at least ten minutes every day to his daughter. He must get the reading in before midnight. It could--if necessary--be done over the phone. But for the most part it was a commitment to share quality time with one another, and with books, each and every day. Of course, at the very, very beginning neither could have predicted that this hundred-day challenge would become several thousand nights long!
The chapters of this memoir cover the time of The Streak. From a young child (third grade) to a very-soon-to-be-freshman in college. The Streak ended the day the father dropped his daughter off for her first year of college. During this time a LOT happened in the family as you can imagine. The book is a book about reading, a book about family coming together, but it is also a book about growing up. We see quite a few changes as the family goes from four to three to two, to one. As the mom leaves and it becomes a single-parent household. As the older sister goes to college and starts her own life. As Alice Ozma herself leaves to go to college.
Readers also get a small glimpse into the father's profession: school librarian. He loves, loves, loves his job reading aloud to children. He sees reading aloud as fundamental to his job, to his role in these children's lives. But by the end of the book, times have changed significantly--and not for the better. His position as school librarian is being undervalued--to say the least. And he's told that he will not be allowed to read aloud to children. And that even the very youngest need no more than five to ten minutes of a picture book. He's told that his job is to teach these kids how to use computers and the internet. Books are out of the picture--in the eyes of the administration. He fights for what's right, but ends up retiring a half-a-year early.
As I said, it's an interesting book. Readers get a good coming of age memoir that happens to focus on books now and then. The back of the book shares a list of books that she remembers being a part of The Streak.
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews