For many families with young children, reading a story before bedtime is an important part of the daily routine. Books such as Goodnight Moon and the Very Hungry Caterpillar are staples in the reading-aloud repertoire, with their compact storylines and eye-catching illustrations. But once children learn to read to themselves, many families lose the connection of the bedtime story.
I know that once I learned to read, I was too impatient to sit and have my mom read to me anymore. I wanted to find out what was going to happen in the book as quickly as possible, and so our nightly reading ritual changed from an interactive, verbal experience to a quieter, less personal one where we would sit together on the couch each silently reading our own book.
Alice Ozma and her father, however, never tired of reading aloud to each other. In fact, they kept up their ritual for 3,218 days from when Alice was in 4th grade until her first day at college. In her book The Reading Promise, Ozma remembers the books that she and her father read together, and why the tradition became so important to their lives and their relationship.
NPR recently featured Ozma’s story on their broadcast (listen to it here). Similar to the books they read together, including favorites When Zachary Beaver Came to Town and Great Expectations, the reading journey is a compelling tale. According to this article, which also includes a short excerpt from The Reading Promise, Ozma’s family was going through a rough patch. Her parents had just split up, and her older sister had recently left for college. Reading together every night helped daughter and father deal with that difficult time.
Listening to the story of The Reading Promise made me wish that I had been more patient as a child. Ozma and her father were able to build an amazing connection through the simple act of reading together every night, something that any family can do. Hopefully others will be inspired by this touching story and maybe even attempt to set a reading record of their own.
Watch this video of Alice Ozma talking about The Reading Promise
Photo credit: San Jose Library
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