Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Report: The Reading Promise

Since I promised to write every day this month, it seems appropriate to start the month off with a book about a promise: The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. You may have heard of this book when it came out earlier this year - Alice and her father started reading together when she was in elementary school, and continued, every day, until she left for college. This book is about The Streak, as they called it, but it is also about the importance of reading and books and family.

Overall, I give the book 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I love the topic and the idea of a reading streak. Both my parents read to me while I was growing up, but not every single night for years, and at some point, I started reading aloud to my mother while she was driving me to and from my music lessons and orchestra rehearsals and on road trips. Then I started reading to Benjamin while we were dating, and we still read together. So, obviously I approve. I enjoyed the way Alice Ozma (yes, both names from books, yes, bother actually her names - the middle ones. And she said she liked them together, so I will go ahead and refer to her that way) used the days of The Streak as markers for important events in her life. But...I sort of wished she said more about the books themselves, about what they were reading, about how she felt about those books. She admits that they didn't even really keep track of everything that they read (augh! How could you not do that?!) That isn't what this book is, but that is sort of what I hoped for from the subtitle. More my problem than the books though.

One problem I had, apart from that, was the dialog. I simply couldn't find it believable at times that a child would speak the way Alice Ozma records herself as speaking, and I can't believe that she remembered conversations that clearly. I know that recreating conversations is not unusual in memoirs, so my problem isn't with that, exactly; it is more that the 10 year old Alice Ozma at the beginning of the book sounds an awful lot like the 20 year old Alice Ozma at the end of the book, or like dialog written by an adult who doesn't know any children. Yes, she read a lot and had a big vocabulary. So did I, and I certainly don't think I ever sounded like that. It is just a bit too precocious and precious.

Overall though, I enjoyed the book. It was an easy read, and it is a great testament to reading aloud together. I think teachers, librarians, and parents would enjoy it. If you are interested in more information about the book or Alice Ozma and the Reading Promise that is in the back of the book, you can visit her website: Make a Reading Promise.

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