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Meet Alice Ozma and The Reading Promise

June 2, 2011

You all know how much I love books, reading and writers. So imagine how excited I was to interview Alice Ozma about her debut memoir. I am pleased to share with you my interview/profile of her below. I highly recommend her book. It was so touching and a must-read for parents (or potential parents).

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When Alice Ozma was 9-years-old, she and her father embarked on a reading adventure. Their goal: to read aloud together for 100 consecutive nights. While Alice’s father had his doubts they could sustain “The Streak” for that long, young Alice was confident they would. What resulted was not 100 days; but a Streak that lasted 3,218 nights.

Alice recounts “The Streak,” as well as her poignant relationship with her father, Jim Brozina, in her debut memoir, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. Alice and her sister were raised by her single father, who was an elementary school librarian. Knowing first-hand the importance of literacy and libraries, Jim made a point to instill those values and always read to his children.

Jim’s commitment to literacy was not just characteristic of reading aloud to his children. Alice explained that her own name is a perfect example of her father’s commitment. Born Kristen Alice Ozma Brozina, Jim wanted to give his daughter a name which represented strong female characters in literature. Alice, is taken from Alice in Wonderland, and Ozma from Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz.

In The Reading Promise, Alice writes, “Every night was different because every story was different. … the only thing that has to be similar from night to night is the act of turning pages. Everything else changed as soon as we picked up a new book.”

“The Streak” lasted until Alice turned 18-years-old and left home for college. She notes that some of her favorites books read during “The Streak” include Great Expectations, Each Little Bird That Sings, the Agatha Christie series, and the Harry Potter series (although Jim was not a fan of this series). And while many teenagers may shudder at the thought of nightly reading with a parent, Alice said the activity was perfectly normal to her as she grew up with it.

Alice feels strongly that all families can partake in a reading streak with the help from the local public library. In fact, she is quick to point out that her family did not own most of the books they read during “The Streak.” Her father would bring home various books from the library for their reading choices.

This belief is the cornerstone of why she’s chosen to partner with the San Diego Public Libraries to kick off their Summer Reading Program. Alice said, “With libraries, anyone can read to their children if they can’t afford books.”

Ironically, it is that belief and commitment to reading and literacy that led Jim to end his 38-year tenure as a children’s librarian. Toward the end of his career, Alice explained, the school began taking out books from the library and replacing them with computers.

“Dad stood up and said he’s not comfortable teaching children computers instead of books in the library,” said Alice. He left his job shortly after that. Jim now volunteers his time reading to children and in senior centers.

Alice encourages families to start their own reading streak this summer. “I think a streak is a great idea and I hope others who try it will agree. We want people to have that same experience.”

She provides several tips for starting a streak on her Web site. One of the most important tips Alice gives to parents is to be make sure they are enthusiastic about reading. “Your children can tell if you think of this as a chore.”

ATTENTION SAN DIEGANS: Alice will speak at three San Diego Public Library locations on Thursday, June 9 to kick off the annual summer reading program. Brought to you by Adventures by the Book, the events are free and open to the public. More information about the event locations – as well as ways to buy the book and support public libraries – is available on the Adventures by the Book Web site.

Alice Ozma

18 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2011 5:15 am

    What an inspiring post–thank you!

  2. June 3, 2011 6:17 am

    What a heartwarming story! I love the idea of the reading streak, which is something I tried to do with my daughter, by reading aloud to her all the Harry Potter books (and a few others in between). I’m all for anything that promotes literacy and using the library.

  3. June 3, 2011 6:20 am

    Excellent! I love this! Thanks for sharing Alice and her book. Very inspiring!

  4. June 3, 2011 7:11 am

    What a wonderful father-daughter relationship; and it sounds like an amazing book! Thanks for posting this really fascinating interview!

  5. June 3, 2011 7:46 am

    Thanks for sharing this and letting us know more about this author. What a great relationship to share with her father!

  6. aig63 permalink
    June 3, 2011 9:25 am

    How truly wonderful! 8 1/2 years of reading together! Amazing.

  7. June 3, 2011 9:55 am

    I read aloud to my children every night until they were in high school, and their homework, sports and friends began to fill up the evenings. Now that they are grown I am grateful for those precious nights traveling through Narnia, Oz, Hogwarts and other worlds and times.

  8. June 3, 2011 11:26 am

    What a lovely and inspirational bonding activity for the two of you. I can’t think of anything else that would forge a closer bond. Your father must be quite a man…

  9. June 3, 2011 3:00 pm

    How wonderful! I can’t wait to share this with my sister – who is a librarian!

  10. June 3, 2011 3:26 pm

    One can’t but admire the dedication and love of such a parent! What a beautiful activity to share! When my children were young, reading was part of our nightly routine. To this day, my son insists that he is an auditory learner because of all the stories I read to him! Wonderful post!

  11. June 3, 2011 6:59 pm

    Excellent post, Leah! Can’t wait to read her wonderful book. It’s so important to read to our children. I actually think mine are smarter than they would have been because of it.

  12. June 3, 2011 7:01 pm

    I love this SO much.

    In a family of five, we couldn’t afford to buy many books, so my mother took us to the library VERY often. She couldn’t read with me every night (did I mention FIVE kids?) but she encouraged my reading in amazing ways.

    Such a wonderful story!

  13. raggedy11 permalink
    June 4, 2011 11:58 am

    thank you for a very nice review; the Reading Promise at the very end of the book is inspiring.

  14. June 4, 2011 5:24 pm

    This is story is an inspiration for so many of us! Thank you for sharing Leah!

  15. June 7, 2011 3:07 am

    Blog is used to publish articles ,put photos ,talk and so on .In a word ,it is used to share our things with people we know or don’t know .It is globalized .

  16. June 7, 2011 10:21 pm

    This makes me so happy to know that so many people are reading aloud t their children and I think that Alice’s story will inspire so many more to start their own Reading Streaks. Nice work on the story Leah!

    • June 9, 2011 10:05 pm

      Thanks, Susan. It really was a pleasure to talk with her and read the book. I loved all the comments too. Made me feel good about reading and libraries.

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