The Reading Promise: 3218 Nights of Reading with My Father is a gently told memoir by 21-year-old Alice Ozma. Her father was a librarian in a kindergarten school. A giant of man standing at over six feet tall is a gentle person who enjoyed his job — passionately. He passed on his love for storytelling to his two daughters, but it was the younger one, Alice who preferred to hear her father read out to her. Her father began to read to Alice when she was nine and continued til her last day at home, before she left for college at the age of eighteen. They read to each other even if they were separated for the night, for instance if Alice was at a friend’s for a sleepover. She made it a point to call her dad before going to bed so that he could read to her for at least ten minutes. It all began as a promise to read to her for a 100 nights, but once that goal was achieved, it became 1000 nights and then it just continued for nine years till it was time for Alice to leave home.
Jim Brozina was a single parent who adored his daughters. His love for reading was a gift from his mother who used to take him and his siblings to the neighbourhood library. She would make them issue two books, one for them to read by themselves and the second one she would read out aloud. Jim too wanted to start a reading streak in his family. He managed it well with Alice. In his preface to the book he says, “the greatest gift you can bestow on your children is your time and undivided attention.” (He is so right!) Once his daughters flew the coop, he continued his passion for storytelling post-retirement by reading out picture books aloud at an old people’s home. “He wasn’t trying to insult them–quite the opposite actually. He was expressing kindness in the form he knew best, and he hoped that they would try to enjoy themselves.”
This book is about the reading streak, the ups and downs, how literature is used to share, communicate and explain. The special relationship that the father and daughter duo shared. In fact Alice went on to create a website dedicated to the reading promise . It is a lovely peep into what reading and sharing books can do for a relationship. There is a small list of books at the end of the book that father and daughter tried to cobble together from what they recalled reading, but it is not the complete list. I enjoyed reading the book.
Alice Ozma The Reading Promise: 3,218 nights of reading with my father Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette), Two Roads, UK, 2011. Pb. pp.280 Rs 399