Monday, June 27, 2011

The Reading Promise, by Alice Ozma

The first thing that struck me about this book was the author’s name: Alice Ozma. Why did that sound so familiar? It turns out her name comes from two female protagonists in two classic pieces of children’s literature: Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Princess Ozma from L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Right away, the author’s name alone makes this book incredibly interesting!

The Reading Promise tells the true story of a father and daughter who make a pact to read with each other for one hundred nights. After they meet their first goal, they decide to go for 1,000 nights. Eventually they decide to just keep going. They read every night—never missing a night—until the day Alice leaves for college.

This book had me laughing so hard I was in tears when Alice described her crippling and somewhat unusual fear of the ghost of JFK at the age of twelve. And it had me tearing up at the more touching moments between Alice and her father. (I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll stop there.) But it also made me think of how lucky I was to grow up in a home where books were not only respected, but cherished. My brother and I had a mother who read to us before we went to bed at night. Books were given as gifts for birthdays and major holidays. Reading was never turned into a punishment, or forced upon us. It was always something we were taught to enjoy. (I have to take a moment right now to thank my mother for this. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t be working in the library today.)

After working with public school kids and then later in the public library, I realized that the love of books and reading is not common in all households. That’s what I think makes The Reading Promise so incredible! It challenges the reader to get back to books, and to practice the art of reading out loud. So if you love books, or need some inspiration, read The Reading Promise. You’ll finish the book with a great excitement and enthusiasm for books, and you’ll want to make a reading promise of your own.

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