Monday, October 3, 2011

The Reading Promise - by Alice Ozma

For 3,218 days in a row Alice Ozma and her father read together. And there is just so much for a JFK-phobic, boy-hating, trapeze-artist wanna-be, fashioned-challenged young woman to say about this experience. Alice's loving tribute to her single (librarian!) father will resonate with anyone who has ever been read to by a parent, been embarassed by a parent, been proud of a parent, or loved a parent. And while I expect my own daughter falls into all of these categories, I somehow doubt that she thinks of her mother as anyone's favorite teacher  (Alice clearly knows this of her father) nor that she will write a memoir about me. If she does I can only hope I come across as well as Jim Brozina does.

I was surprised when I read that Brozina sometimes "edited" the books when he read them out loud. It has always seemed to me that reading is a safe way to bring up difficult topics, and Alice thought the same thing when she discovered that her father had skipped right over some grandmother/granddaughter conversations about puberty, boys and bras in the book Dicey's Song. Even as a high school freshman she realized that  "he had gone to extreme effort[s] to to cut out the exact conversations that [they] should have been having...sure that this is what most single fathers would have done."

I loved reading to Paloma, especially when she was small. I remember the very first time, at age one, that she picked up a book and handed it to me and crawled in my lap as a way of asking me to read to her. The book was called Welcome, Little Baby, by Aliki. I still have the book in her box of special baby things. The first chapter book we read together was The Hobbit when she was three years old. I would read until she fell asleep, which on some nights took up to an hour-she was always so afraid of missing anything. We read the first six Harry Potter books together, but she read the final one on her own, as did I. I do wish she would let me read to her again. The last time I tried to read aloud to the family, on a long car trip, she said she preferred listening to books on tape. I am fortunate that my loving husband stills likes me to read to him, and reads to me as well. We read "Dear Abby" almost every day, and usually have a chapter book we are reading together as well. This provides us with wonderful opportunities to laugh together, cry together (just try reading Charlotte's Web without squirting a few tears!) and to have some stimulating intellectual conversations as well. Ozma's book has inspired me to remember take time every day to read with him.

The book is episodic, and each relatively short chapter can pretty much stand on its own, without any cliffhangers, which would make it a perfect parent/child read together book.

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