My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s hard to review The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma without gushing a little. To be fair, I am really the perfect audience for this book. As a life-long obsessive reader, I recognized many of the books that Alice and her father read together, which gave me frequent moments of happy nostalgia.
Also, I come from a family where reading together was a common occurrence. I have fond memories of my sisters and I curled up on the couch listening to my mom read to us way into my high year years. And since I was so much older than my younger sisters (there is an age gap of 5-9 years between us), I spent a lot of time reading to them. I read the Dr. Seuss ABC Book to my youngest sister, Lynne, so many times that I can still recite most of the little poems he wrote for each individual letter from memory – all the way from “Big A, Little A, What begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator. A. A. A” to “Big Z, Little Z. What begins with Z? I do. I am Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz as you can plainly see.” And then there was the infamous incident involving Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart,” a stormy evening and a door that I was able to unobtrusively nudge into creaking at a particularly suspenseful time in the story…. And so, this book couldn’t have appealed more to me if the author had written it specifically for me.
Having said that, I found The Reading Promise charming above and beyond the nostalgia it evoked. It isn’t just a bibliophile’s celebration of their favorite childhood books. It is the story of a father and daughter who made a commitment to each other – to read together every day for 1,000 days. It’s a story about how it is vital and possible to prioritize and make time for the things that are important to us. It’s a story about how books can help us connect to each other. It’s a story about a single father using books to help him navigate a young girl’s life. It’s a story about a love of books, a love of family and of the vital importance of taking time to experience and appreciate both.