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)
"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
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
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.