Monday, August 29, 2011
The Reading Promise
One of our patrons had requested this from another library and seeing the subtitle "My Father and the Books We Shared", I had to take a look at it. It looked interesting and when the patron returned it, I proceeded to sign it out.
This is the story of the author, Alice Ozma, and her father, Jim. Jim, an elementary school librarian, always read to Alice as she was growing up. Around the age of nine the two of them decide that Jim will try to read to Alice for one hundred consecutive evenings. Upon successfully doing so, they decide that they will keep the streak alive and continue as long as they can. Jim reads to Alice every night of her life up until the day she leaves for college.
I enjoyed this story a lot because I could relate on many levels. First, I love to read to people. I read to my sons when they were younger (and my oldest son still reads to my youngest even though they are almost 17 and 12 years old, respectively. My youngest just likes his brother reading to him). I've read to girlfriends, my ex-wife. A friend of mine who lives in another state has gone through many illnesses and I have recorded myself, first on cassette and later digitally, so she can hear me read to her. I even looked into trying to get a gig reading for audiobooks once but found that the companies who produce them like people with vocal training and acting background and all that stuff. Oh well. So there was the whole reading aspect that I enjoyed.
I also could relate to Jim a lot. He raises Alice and her older sister on his own as a single parent. They struggle financially on his librarian salary. Jim doesn't like cats. He's friends with spiders. I liked Jim and I especially liked the foreword he wrote for this book, which should be required reading for all parents. They're also from the Philly area and visit places near where I grew up (Brandywine River Museum, Hank's Place (which I heard was submerged to the windows from Hurricane Irene)).
As for Alice, her writing is very simple and concise. The chapters are very short (about nine pages each) and talk about some aspect of her life with her father. Not all the chapters relate to reading and the streak. They all do have something to do with the father-daughter relationship.
The negative aspects of the book come from Alice just being a little too truthful. Reading to your child throughout their teenage years, almost into adulthood, isn't what most people would consider "normal". This isn't the only quirk the family shows. Some of the stories made me feel uncomfortable in a "too much information" kind of way. While I liked Jim and admired him, I also had to question some of the things he did.
All in all, though, this was a terribly sweet book and biases aside, I think it's one well worth reading.