When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundreth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual.Read more...
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When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundreth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they called "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college.
Alice approaches her book as a series of vignettes about her relationship with her father and the life lessons learned from the books he read to her.
Books included in the Streak were: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, and Shakespeare's plays.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-02-28
- Reviewer: Staff
Named for two literary characters ("Alice" from Lewis Carroll and "Ozma" from L. Frank Baum), the author is the daughter of a Philadelphia-area elementary school librarian. Father and daughter embarked on a streak of reading-out-loud sessions every night before bed as Ozma was growing up. At first they decided on 100 nights straight of reading before bed—a minimum 10 minutes, before midnight, every night, no exceptions—then it stretched to 1,000, and soon enough the author was headed to college and they had spent eight years straight reading before bedtime, from Oz stories to Shakespeare. Reading with her father offered a comforting continuity in the midst of her mother's disquieting move away from the family, her older sister's absence as a foreign exchange student, and the parsimoniousness of her single father. Ozma's account percolates chronologically through her adolescence, as father and daughter persevered in their streak of nightly reading despite occasional inconveniences such as coming home late, sleepovers (they read over the phone), and a rare case of the father's laryngitis. Ozma's work is humorous, generous, and warmly felt, and with a terrific reading list included, there is no better argument for the benefits of reading to a child than this rich, imaginative work. (May)
The joy of sharing books
Alice Ozma grew up with a single father who was a dedicated elementary school librarian. Even her two middle names, under which she writes, testify to a love of children’s literature. So it wasn’t out of character when the two decided to formalize their nightly reading sessions into an attempt at reading aloud for 100 consecutive nights. When that was handily completed, “The Streak” grew . . . and grew . . . and eventually continued for eight years, until Ozma started college. The Reading Promise is a memoir woven from the stories they shared.
Some of the book’s funniest moments stem from the pair’s commitment to get their reading session in by midnight: Ozma’s father might have to pull her from a late theater rehearsal and recite from Harry Potter by streetlight, or barely whisper when he had laryngitis. It’s both funny and touching when he tries to protect her from a book’s frank discussion of puberty by reducing it down to “all the stuff,” having one character add, “Yes, I already know about that so we don’t need to talk about it.” Generally obedient, Ozma nevertheless sneaks into her father’s room later to read the chapter, laughing at his censorship of a completely age-appropriate and informative passage.
After Ozma leaves for college, her father suffers a setback when his school decides to eliminate its reading program and replace the library’s books with computers. He tries to keep the program in place, since it serves poor children who may struggle to attain basic literacy without it, but is overruled and ends up leaving the school—and finding a new audience as a reader in retirement homes.
The Reading Promise is a sweet tribute to a devoted single parent and a powerful reminder of the bond that shared stories can create.