Three thousand, two hundred and eighteen - this is the number of nights a father and daughter persevered to keep a reading promise alive.
Every now and then I come across a real heart-warming story that truly highlights the bond between a parent and a child which cannot go unwritten and the fact that reading, or rather a promise to read is at the centre of the story really delves deeply into why it is so important that reading, as a valuable and viable past-time for children, is still pertinent and important to this very day.
I learned about Alice Ozma and her story when mention was made of her in a Facebook group that I follow. This particular post lit a wonderful interest in me and I had to learn more about Alice so that I could help spread her story and share the successes that reading can bring to all of the followers of this blog. More importantly, to give everyone a firm example that we are never too busy to dedicate some time from our busy lifestyles to read to our children.
So without further adieu please enjoy the interview I recently held with Alice.
Who is Alice Ozma?
Country of residence: USA
Favourite hobbies: I have a one-year-old daughter, so hobbies are a luxury, ha, but I love cuddling with my dog, and I make a tonne of tea
Favourite song: Lately I’ve been really enjoying Alaska by Maggie Rogers
Favourite movie: Twelve Angry Men
Favourite Colour: Gray
A place you enjoyed visiting recently: I went to Barcelona for the first time last year and it was incredible.
A place you would like to visit one day: Cape Town
What are you currently reading? Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (I know, I’m late to the party)
What is your all-time favourite book? I can never choose, but I usually say Huck Finn by Mark Twain.
About your book!
Can you provide readers of this article with a short synopsis about your book?
When I was in elementary school, my dad and I made a pact to read together for 100 nights. That turned into 1,000, and eventually, we just didn’t stop until I went to college - 3,218 nights later!
Most of my followers don’t know how your book ‘The Reading Promise’ came to fruition, could you give a brief explanation how the story came to be?
I wrote an essay about this story for a grad school application and asked my professor to read it over. My professor sent it to the head of PR for my college, who sent it to the New York Times, who ran an article on my father and I. I was then contacted by dozens of agents, movie people, etc. It was stressful, as I was a senior in college and still in my classes, but eventually I decided to take the leap and write a book! I wrote it at age 22, and it came out when I was 23 years old.
I would imagine that a promise such as the one made to you by your father would have had a profound effect on the bond between you and him. Can you elaborate?
It’s funny, I always say it’s more like, I can’t imagine what our relationship would have been WITHOUT it. This existed for such a huge chunk of my life. My dad and I are close, but we always were. This feels as natural as breathing.
Can you name at least three places, outside of the home you grew up in, when you and your father worked hard to keep the reading streak alive? Where you anywhere in particular?
We read everywhere. Ball games, train stations, his parked car. I mean everywhere we went, we read. I talk about this a lot in the book!
When encouraged to read to their children, or at best read in front of their children, many parents I have come across in my career have very often given me varied versions of the following statement – 'Too busy, haven’t got the time.'What would you say to this and what advice would you provide to parents who would be quick to join on the ‘Too busy, haven’t go the time’ bandwagon.
I can relate to this more now that I have my own child. I don’t think I’m in a position to judge, though I do read to my daughter constantly. Like my father, I just think of this as a really special time with my daughter, and I can’t think of anything that feels a whole lot more important. She goes to bed, and I get back to work on chores, going to the gym, etc. But reading together is our break from the day. It’s not just good for her - it’s good for me.
Do you have any words of advice to parents who may have children who do not readily look to picking up a book to read?
I am hesitant to give this advice as I have not crossed that bridge yet myself! But I look forward to modelling good reading habits to my daughter. After a long day, I want to light the fire, make a cup of tea and flop on the couch with a book, and I hope my daughter will join me.
Do you have any suggestions or tips to children when choosing a book to read?
A colleague used to say, “even good readers abandon good books.” Meaning, just because your friends all loved it doesn’t mean it’s for you. There are plenty of books that get rave reviews and do nothing for me. I think as a child, you might say wait a minute, if everyone loves this, does that mean I don’t love reading? But it doesn’t always work that way. Not every book is for every reader.
Are you currently working on any other projects at the moment?
My biggest project is my full-time job and one-year-old daughter! :)
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Alice Ozma and I would encourage you to see how you can acquire a copy of her book which makes for wonderful reading. Perhaps it will encourage you to start a reading streak with your own child and help to keep alive the wonder that reading can provide not only in your child, but in yourself too. Very often we tend to allow the hustle and bustle of everyday life derail us from enjoying the simpler things in life, the moments when we can just share some time with our child in the same room, without any smartphones or tablets or any other digital gadget and simply enjoy the presence of each other with a good book to enjoy.
Have you started a reading streak with your child or recently completed one? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.
Are you looking for a book to read to your son or daughter? If so, I'd like to invite you to learn a little more about the adventure novel I wrote for children and the special goal my wife and I attached to this book. Click on the link here.... The Ponds of Wonder