The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared

( 62 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clearly fabulous for libraries everywhere... My Pick." -Library Journal

"Alice Ozma has given us the gift of a remarkable love story. In her love of books, and of her father, we see the most-meaningful promises we might make to our own parents, our own children, and to ourselves." -Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor, The Last Lecture

"Tender, funny, and deeply readable, THE READING PROMISE tells the story of how a simple ritual became a treasured father-daughter tradition. Promise yourself to revisit what matters...promise you'll pick up this tribute to the ways in which books change lives." - Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine's Bookshelf

This is about so much more than books and reading. It's about single-parenthood and childhood, about raising a loving, witty, articulate kid, and all of it accomplished without anyone turning into the Alpha-Parent/Tiger-Dad. -Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook

"THE READING PROMISE is a powerful testament to the difference a parent's devotion and the act of reading can make in a child's life. A rare and triumphant story." - Chris Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pursuit of Happyness

Publishers Weekly
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)
Library Journal
When Ozma was in fourth grade, her dad, school librarian Jim Brozina, agreed to read aloud to her for 100 nights. Her older sister had left for college and her mother had left altogether, so it was great bonding time for father and daughter. Celebrating the 100th day at a favorite eating spot, they agreed to continue what had proved to be a wonderful experience. And continue they did, for 3,218 consecutive nights, up to the day she left for college. Later, when Ozma wrote about what she and her dad called "the Streak" for a graduate school application essay, her adviser was so impressed that she contacted the New York Times. What resulted was a big news story—and this utterly charming memoir, which blends Ozma's reading experience with a perfectly phrased account of her upbringing and shows us just how much she learned. VERDICT Sweet, engaging, and obviously inspiring (it even ends with a "Reading Promise"), this is the perfect book to hand any curmudgeon who needs reminding that reading makes a difference or thinks that today's youth are all blasé. Highly recommended with this bonus question: where did Kristen Alice Ozma Brozina get her full name? [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/11.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews

Reading really was fundamental for a father and daughter team who made it their nightly ritual for eight straight years.

The author's name—an amalgam of characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum's Oz series—illustrates her profound passion for reading bookshelves of literature from childhood to well into adolescence. In 1997, plucky, headstrong Ozma and her father, an elementary-school librarian, began reading aloud to each other for 1,000 consecutive nights. Dubbed "The Streak," it began when the author was in third grade and lasted 3,218 nights. Ozma's father, a firm believer in the limitless power of books, was overjoyed (and pleasantly surprised) when they'd achieved their initial goal of 100 nights. But then Ozma determinedly upped the ante to 1,000 as their readings graduated from James and the Giant Peach to Shakespeare and Harry Potter. There were stringent "rules" to follow: They had to read for at least 10 minutes, before midnight, preferably in person, and books only—though "anything from magazines to baseball programs would do" in a pinch. Those days, Ozma fondly recalls, incorporated a playful and deeply unifying pastime shared with a man who became not only an interactive parent and friend, but a shoulder to lean on when inconvenience and calamity impeded their endeavors. But nothing could stop them—not the funeral in honor of her pet fish, nor her Dad's laryngitis, nor the painful, physical separation of her mother, who moved out, nor her older sister's absence as a foreign-exchange student. While all were painful memories that Ozma evokes with a hushed despondence, "The Streak" continued unabated until the author moved away to college, majoring in English, almost nine years later.

A warm memoir and a gentle nudge to parents about the importance of books, quality time and reading to children.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446583787
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/5/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 111,442
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Ozma

Alice Ozma, a recent Rowan University graduate, currently lives in the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia, PA. She is passionate about literature, education, and working with children. Find out more about this author by visiting her website: www.makeareadingpromise.com.

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Read an Excerpt

List of Books from the Reading Streak

The Last Treasure by Janet S. Anderson
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
The Barn by Avi
Wish You Well by David Baldacci
Harry the Poisonous Centipede by Lynne Reid Banks
Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennett
A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos
Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Trouble River by Betsy byars
The Family under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Murder on the Orient Express and Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman
My Daniel by Pam Conrad
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
James and the Giant Peach, Danny the Champion of the World, and The Minpins by Roald Dahl
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers, A Christmas Carol, and The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger
Whirligig and The Half-A-Moon Inn by Paul Fleischman
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
The Other Shepards by Adele Griffin
Among the Hidden and Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Indigo by Alice Hoffman
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
Stormbreaker, Point Blank, Skeleton Key, Ark Angel, and Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
Up a Road Slowly and Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
The Secret Journey by Peg Kehret
In the Stone Circle by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Beyond the Open Door by Andrew Lansdown
Secret in the Woods by Lois Gladys Leppard
Spy X: The Code by Peter Lerangis
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
The Giver and Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
Journey by Patricia MacLachlan
Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days by Stephen Manes
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin
Good Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Thomas Jefferson: A Boy in Colonial Days by Helen A. Monsell
It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
A Year Down Under by Richard Peck
The Moosepire and Once Upon a Blue Moose by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Select short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Pawns by Willo Davis Roberts
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Missing May and The Islander by Cynthia Rylant
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Bears’ House by Marilyn Sachs
A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Among the Dolls by William Sleator
Cat Running by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
Maniac Magee and The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli
The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires
Andy Jackson: Boy Soldier by Augusta Stevenson
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman
Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt
Each Little Bird That Sings and Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
The Moonlight Man by Betty Ren Wright
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
[LI_SB]
L. Frank Baum books:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz
The Road to Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink in Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz
Glinda of Oz
Dot and Tot of Merryland
American Fairy Tales
The Master Key: An Electrical Fairy Tale
Mother Goose in Prose
Queen Zixi of Ix
The Sea Fairies
Sky Island
The Enchanted Island of Yew
The Magical Monarch of Mo
Father Goose: His Book
Little Wizard Stories of Oz
[LI_SB]
Judy Blume books:
Freckle Juice
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Superfudge
Fudge-a-Mania
Double Fudge
The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo
[LI_SB]
Ramona books
by Beverly Cleary:
Beezus and Ramona
Ramona the Pest
Ramona the Brave
Ramona and Her Father
Ramona and Her Mother
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Ramona Forever
Ramona’s World
[LI_SB]
Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol:
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Encyclopedia Brown Strikes Again (aka Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch)
Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues
Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man
Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All
Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace
Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day
Encyclopedia Brown Tracks Them Down
Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way
Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case
Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand
Encyclopedia Brown Carries On
Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace
Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Treasure Hunt
[LI_SB]
Harry Potter books
by J. K. Rowling:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 62 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 63 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2011

    Great Gift for new parents or for Father's Day

    This book is wonderful, readable, and compelling. The author talks about her years of reading every night with her librarian father (her mother leaves the family when she is quite young). This book is a reminder of how important it is for parents/grandparents to MAKE TIME to read to their children regularly, and to KEEP IT UP. It's a way of forging and keeping a relationship, developing real interests, and knowing what your kids are thinking. Nowadays parents give their kids hand-held games in preschool and leave them to entertain themselves. Later they wonder why their kids struggle with schoolwork and can't talk to grownups articulately.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    Heartwarming Story of Father/Daughter Bonding

    Quick and witty look at a father and a daughter bound together by their love of reading. The book is a serious of short segments from "the streak" which involved 3200+ nights of reading together. It proves the educational and emotional value of parents and children reading together.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A good read

    This was not as enthralling as I hoped it would be, but all in all, it was a good read. I really enjoyed the bond between father and daughter, despite teenage angst and drama. I still read to my 5th grader, maybe not every night, but most nights and enjoy it. This book helped me see that I don't have to give that up even when she gets older. Definitely worth the read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Wonderful read

    This book pulls at your heart from the start. It brings back memories of childhood reading bedtime stories with my parents as well as exposing and reminding us all of the problems with our school systems. It will make anyone feel like pounding on thir school boards door to bring back the joy of reading in our education standards. If every school administrator read this, our literacy ratings would increase dramatically across the country. A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Mediocre

    I loved the bond between father and daughter, for the simple reason that it is all too rare. I thought I would love this book; but it just wasn't exciting enough to keep me entertained. Not a bad book; just not a great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    Simply doesn't deliver

    Alice Ozma grew up in a book-lover's paradise, a bookish child with an elementary school librarian father enthusiastic about reading to her every, single evening, the two of them sharing lines they'd read, inside jokes about characters, etc. Before they began an official goal of reading together 100 nights in a row, they already came very near meeting that goal on a regular basis, skipping only a handful of nights. But making it an official gave them something firm to strive for, and once they'd achieved that it was time to set an even higher goal: reading for 1,000 nights.

    The premise of the book is charming, and the relationship between Alice and her father a very close, endearing one. With a mother who'd run off from the family, and an older sister who seems more a shadow than a real person (which may just have been Alice's choice, to cut the family down to she and her father only), having her father to lean on was a comfort. As a bonus, she was the center of his world, the one person in his life he could say he influenced for the better, the father many of us dream of.

    The problem with the book is after the first couple of chapters - in which Ozma describes her reading plan and its rules - the rest are unsatisfying, seemingly unconnected vignettes. As an adult, I found the reading had a few charming moments, as well as the poignancy of a child's perspective on a mother who abandoned her family, but the bulk of these stories were not at all compelling. It became a slog reading little bits about her family life, especially since the stories lacked much of anything in the way of talking about books - the purported intention of the book.

    I was very disappointed in The Reading Promise, and felt the description of the book did not live up to the actuality. Had the vignettes and characters been more fully fleshed out, the writing of a higher calibre, perhaps I could have gotten beyond the promise unfulfilled. I would still have felt a bit cheated, but as it is I don't understand for whom, exactly, this book was written. It seems to be pitched at adults, but is it, really? In my opinion, no. It's written in too unsophisticated a style to hold the attention. Again, as a book for children maybe it would work, but even that's on thin ice.

    I don't expect The Reading Promise will stand the test of time, and don't expect it to make the list of "Best Books About Books and Reading," which is most unfortunate, considering the intent Ozma had in writing it. The set-up was perfect: the precocious child who loves reading, paired with a father who loves sharing his love

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2011

    Excellent!

    Everyone could learn something from this book considering we live in a Snooky/Kardashian/Housewives obsessed era.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2011

    Simply OK

    This is a really cute story between a father and daughter but the book was ultimately not interesting. I think the streak itself is the most memorable thing involved and it is a bit gimmicky for my taste. I'd recommend using the library for this one if you can't find anything else to read as it's not worth buying.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    A loving promise!

    A wonderful little book! Not particularly well written but I love the foundational premise of the story!

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  • Posted June 12, 2013

    A great read for anyone who cares about books, about children, a

    A great read for anyone who cares about books, about children, about family, and the importance of it all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    HI!!!!

    Look i got this book in real life not on my nook this morning for v-day i am reading it now and its looking good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    By mable daze December,26 2012

    Love this book that you said it was good and now im reading the book now!!!!! Love it soo much!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Please read my comment!

    I love how they are both telling how they remember how they did the reading Streak whitch is called different point of view.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Wonderful, bonding with children

    I saw this book and thought, how wonderful, a father reading a marathon of books to his kids! I didnt realize how long it had gone on. Its wonderful. I started reading to my toddler afterreading this book. It iswonderful because technology will eventually wipe out all tge books. I have afull working library in my house and am very proud of it. Books teach children so much and should NEVER be replaced by technology

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Read to your children!

    When Alice was in fourth grade, she and her elementary-librarian father made a goal to read together for one hundred consecutive nights. That accomplished, they thought of a loftier goal-getting to one thousand nights; after that was achieved, they kept "The Streak" going just for the pleasure of it. Alice reminisces about some of the events which took place during those years, including when her mother moved out of the home, leaving Alice and her older sister in the care of their father, the day when her sister moved out of the family home for college, and the final night of The Streak, when Alice herself arrived at her college dormitory. As much a sweet tribute to her father as about the books themselves, the book moved slower than I would've liked. Each chapter is prefaced by a quote from one of the books which was read, and the book wraps up with a partial list of the many books that Alice's father read to her. As a librarian and the mother of an adult child, I commend the author and her father for sustaining this great project which they undertook. I hope that other parents will read this book and start their own streak.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    Inspirational!

    This book was very inspirational! The way that Alice Ozma puts this story together is amazing and it's hard to believe that she got this book published at the young age of 22, fresh out of college. Her literary advancement inspires me to read to my children the way her father read to her, because what she has learned shines through strongly and skillfully in this book! I would recommend it to any reader/writer!

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  • Posted September 3, 2011

    A must read for anyone who has a child in their life

    As a elementary school librarian, this book was one I could not resist. It did not disappoint! I empathized alternately with both Alice and her father. Especially when he was told he could no longer read to his students! That's tantamount to telling a children's librarian not to breathe! A must have for any children's literacy advocate, parent, teacher, or anyone who loves to read. It should be required reading for ALL school administrators and school board members (they're the ones who put the libraries (and/or qualified librarians) and arts on the chopping block when budget cuts need to be made).

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Great Book, especially for Fathers or Daughters

    I normally like my books hard-boiled, dark and dangerous. But as an avid reader, this book appealed to me. What a marvelous find! Well written and not a bit preachy. It's as much autobiography as a book about books. Her dad is a cross between the father in Calvin and Hobbes and the fathers in Jane Austen books. Funny, sweet, poignant and satisfying. Well worth the investment of your time.

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  • Posted July 15, 2011

    Wonderful Writing!

    Bluestalking (sic), I couldn't disagree more with your review. The writing was excellent and the vignettes were compelling and fit together seamlessly. I gulped down the entire book in one night and plan to re-read it and also buy a copy for our library. Please, other readers, give it a try. A warm and wonderful book.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A must read for ALL Adults who care about children and family

    The Reading Promise is one of the best books I ever read. If you care about children, family, or education you must read this book. This book show us the importance of reading to our children and spending just a little special time with them is. Alice and her father are an inspiration to everyone. We need more teachers like Jim Brozina in our schools and more fathers like him in our home. Because then this country would be a much better place.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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