Father, daughter stay true to reading promise
One of the best ways parents can connect with their children is to read to them. That usually ends when kids learn to read for themselves, but it doesn't have to.
In Assignment America, Steve Hartman has the story of a reading connection that continued happily ever after early childhood.
MILLVILLE, N.J. - Thanks to a retired librarian here, I may have found the secret to successful parenting. Not in any one, single book but in a one, single dad whose wife left him when his daughter was 10.
Jim Brozina and his daughter Alice Ozma were always close, he said, but around fourth grade he started worrying they'd soon drift apart.
"In fourth grade, they start looking at their friends," said Brozina. "It could be that we didn't see each other or talk to one another. It could have been."
Could have been, he said, if not for The Streak. The Streak was a challenge Jim issued to his daughter that fourth-grade year to see how many nights in a row they could read together. He even made rules: They had to read at least one chapter and had to finish before midnight.
"It was our way of being connected," said Brozina. "If I got that done and nothing else, that was the important thing of the day."
Ozma, now 23, took it just as seriously.
"It was like my life," she said. "And you would think 15 minutes a day wouldn't be that fundamental, but it turned out it was what everything came back to."
Starting with chapter books and building to Shakespeare, Brozina continued reading to Ozma well after most parents give up on storytime, well into high school. That's right. While the other kids were leaving parties to get beer, Ozma was leaving for "King Lear."
"I don't know that I was particularly popular," said Ozma. "And I didn't even drive either, so I would have to burden someone at a party to take me home to get read to and drive me back."
Yet she and her dad kept it up every night till the first day of college.
After unpacking her things at Rutgers University, Brozina and Ozma sat in the stairwell of her dorm and shared one last read.
"It was a hard thing to bear, to know that after almost nine years that we were now doing it the last time," Brozina said.
"He put in every night for years," said Ozma. "He didn't have to do that. He's selfless."
Ozma ended up graduating at the top of her class with a degree in -- you guessed it -- English literature. Thanks to all that reading her dad did, Ozma is now able to read to him from her own book. It's called "The Reading Promise."
As for Brozina, although he rarely reads to Ozma anymore, he still finds a regular audience by traveling around to local senior centers. Apparently you're never too old to be read to.
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