Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: The Reading Promise

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.


  1. I would luv to read this book, what a wonderful goal between a father and his daughter. Thanks for sharing the book.

  2. Molly, don't blame yourself...I am a teacher and have two kids. My daughter barely likes to read...And my son,, who is younger, likes to read even Time magazine. I started reading to them but as a teacher my voice was so worm out by night time that sometimes it just was too hard. I would also like to recommend to you the book The Reading Aloud Handbook by Jim Trealese. It's great book about the benefits of reading to kids since they are infants. Bon chance in your trip to Paris!

  3. Glad to see this is worth checking out again! We did a lot of reading aloud as the girls were growing up - from board books as babies through Harry Potter and The Series of Unfortunate Events when they were older. Still, only 2 of the 3 are readers, so you may be being a bit too hard on yourself, Molly. Love that you're planning special library visits with Brynn already!

  4. This book sounds precious. But I'll just pipe in here and tell you that for a period of a few years, not long ago (late pre-teen) I DID read to my kids, and they loved it. But then they decided it wasn't cool and turned their backs on it. They turned their backs on audios too. I'm hoping that one day, they will want it back but I'm beginning to see that this can't be forced.

  5. The description of the book brought tears to my eyes. I read to my son until he decided he was too old for it and I kind of regret that I didn't push harder to keep it going. Books not only bond, they're also great conversation starters.

  6. I will definitely have to check this out, Molly! And if it helps any, my dad read aloud to me when I was little, but it didn't continue after I was about 5 or 6 and look at me:) But I do LOVE that you're already making library visit plans with Brynn!!

  7. I'm totally in love with the sounds of this story and the relationship between the father/daughter! I think this is one that I could really get into and would love to have the opportunity to read every night to my grandchild!!

  8. 2 of our kids, who hated reading in their school years, became readers after they left for college. So there is still hope.

    As far as grandkids, my two grandsons have a non-reading mother. Living at a distance, it's difficult to get any reading time with them, so my solution is to send them books for every occasion. I don't think they are getting much use, but hopefully, as the boys get into grade school (they are currently K and 2nd) they will pick them up on their own.

    Enjoy every minute of reading to Brynn.

  9. The Reading Promise sounds wonderful!


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