Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 28: My crush on Alice Ozma, her amazing dad, and reading with my boys

Have you heard of Alice Ozma?  If not, please do yourself a favor and meet her.  And her dad.  They are a delightful and inspiring pair.

My friend Amy (who happens to be the most thoughtful person I know) bought me this book for my birthday last year.  There's no better gift than a book.  Especially one this good.  Amy thought it seemed like me.  She was so right.

I love everything about this book.  At 23, this is Alice's memoir.  When she was in fourth grade, her father (a school librarian) feared that she would stop wanting to read books with him when she could read on her own.  To combat this catastrophe, he proposed a reading streak.  Initially they promised to read together for 100 consecutive nights.  Once they successfully fulfilled their goal, they got even more gutsy and lengthened it.  As time passed, the streak became so important to them that they kept it going --at all costs-- for over 3,000 consecutive nights.  Her dad read his last page to her on the day he dropped her off at college.

When I cried my eyes out.

In The Reading Promise, Alice tells the story of her life, through the story of their reading streak.  There was a lot going on in their home that could have been debilitating to a young girl and her father.  Mainly the suicidal tendencies and abandonment of Alice's mother.  The streak was her father's promise to be there for his daughter, without fail, every night.  In an unspoken way, The Streak provided constancy, faithfulness, intimacy and hope.  He was going to be there.  They had a promise.

If I understand correctly, her father is a bit awkward, socially and relationally.  What I love about him is that he didn't let that keep him from being what his daughter needed.  He worked with what he had and who he is and played to his strengths.

I work from home.  Lately I have far too much on my plate.  At times it's really hard to connect with my cute kiddos the way that I long to.  Especially as they grow older, it can be hard to find that vehicle that allows intimacy and deep relationship to continue.  Reading together is our magic way to connect.  I cherish my reading time with my boys more than any other moment in my day.  We snuggle close and jump into fabulous worlds together.  We get to know all the same characters and have endless inside jokes.  Reading together allows us to speak the same language.  And plotting out all the books we'll read next and stacking them by the bed, sends them the same message that Alice's dad sent her:  I'm going to be here for you.  We're going to share this life together.

I promise.

Alice currently has one of the coolest gigs in town, in my opinion.  A recent college grad, she has joined forces with Scholastic, motivating kids to be readers.  (Smart move on Scholastic's end.)  She also travels to schools to talk about her book, and to spur other families on to create their own reading streaks.  If I was on the PTO at my school, I'd be all over that.   Instead I follow her on Facebook and get all teary-eyed when I read stories of dads who travel starting streaks with their kids via telephone and how much it's strengthened their relationship. 

Have you read Alice Ozma's book?  What'd you think?  Do you have a formal or informal reading streak or promise with your kids?   I'm chronicling my informal streak with Matthew {here}, if you're interested.  If you haven't read The Reading Promise yet -- I highly recommend it.  And don't let my comment above mislead you.  It's not a total should know that I laughed as much as I cried.


  1. The Reading Promise was an inspiring book! I enjoyed it : )

  2. I met Alice last year and she immediately became my hero. Her book is absolutely amazing. It is a must read for every my opinion.

    1. I know - it's impossible not to like Alice. Her book made me remember how much I love reading.


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