The Reading Promise

Reading Promise

Reading has been something that I enjoy and the book that I recently completed is so apt to my current stage of life.

The book is entitled “The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared” by Alice Ozma. It’s about a promise between a father and daughter to read aloud together. After completing 100 consecutive days of reading aloud together, they decided to go further and take “this streak” as long as they could. Lo and behold, they kept this routine for 3,218 days, which is more than 8 years. It’s a picture of devotion and commitment between a father and daughter.

The streak is non-negotiable. It had to be completed before midnight every single day. Mind you, the streak ended when Alice entered college, which meant that her father read to her while she was in primary and secondary school. It meant that for over 8 years, both parties had to make a point to schedule this in their calendar. It meant that there must be a willingness to spend time doing this and it also showed that this is something that is valuable and important to both of them.

In this fathering journey, there are certain things that I want to do and pass it on.

The love for reading is one of them.

I want Mikaela to grow up in an environment surrounded with books. I want Mikaela to grow up being read to. I want Mikaela to grow up discovering new worlds and knowledge through the pages of a book. I want Mikaela to see the love for reading being modelled out.

“In her love of books, and of her father, we see the most meaningful promise we might make to our own parents, our own children and to ourselves.” (Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor, The Last Lecture)

Truly, I see the love of books and reading as a promise I must make to my children and to myself. Reading is such a cheap way to acquire knowledge and travel. We could spend thousands of dollars studying in a school or we could pick up a book for tens of dollars and start picking up facts, knowledge and lessons. We could spend hundreds or even thousands travelling the world or we could travel the world (and even to places outside the world) with the flipping of a book.

With the advancement of technology and the constant presence of screens (think phones, tablets, laptops, etc), picking up a hardcopy book and reading may be an afterthought, especially with the latest TV series or games. Yet, I firmly believe that there is a place for books and reading. There’s something special about holding a hardcopy book and reading. Perhaps you may feel like hardcopies are a thing of the past and you prefer to read on a tablet. I think there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, in fact, I enjoy reading the newspaper on my iPad. The key is to stay focus on reading while reading, instead of being distracted by the latest food picture on instagram or the latest Facebook post of your friends.

At the end of the book, there were some reading promises that we could make. I’ve adapted from the book and penned down two promises that I’ll work.

I promise to read on my own, in print or on a screen, wherever books appear. I promise to visit fictional worlds and gain new perspectives – to keep an open mind about books, even when the cover is unappealing and the author is unfamiliar. I promise to laugh our loud when the chapter amuses me, and to sob uncontrollably on my bed when my favourite character dies. I promise to look up words when I don’t know them, and cities when I can’t locate them, and people when I can’t remember them. I promise to lose track of time.

I promise to read with Mikaela, if not every night, then whenever I can. I promise to remember that she is more than my daughter; she has a mind that, like mine, loves to be used and challenged. I promise to share books however it suits us best, whether we choose to read to each other or simply get together for discussion. I promise to appreciate the time we spend together and the literature we meet, even when I’m stressed or tired, because books are better when they’re shared. I promise to do my best to meet our goal, whether that goal is to read for a thousand nights or simply to get to know each other better. I promise never to give up on reading, nor let us give up on each other, whether we meet our goal or not.

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