Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Praise of a Dedicated Reader

Copyright New York TimesA dedicated reader always needs a poster opportunity for inspiring others to do the same. A dedicated father who's inculcates reading in his child deserves far more accolades. Here's the New York Times's full article.

Copyright by News in Health NIHJim Brozina, single father of two daughters and an elementary school librarian, proposed The Streak to his younger daughter Kristen: Read together for 100 straight bedtimes without missing once. "Our rule was," said Brozina, "we had to read before midnight, and it had to be at least 10 minutes."

Such a simple objective, such a difficult follow-through for most. And yet, this duo succeeded. They then expanded The Streak to 1000 nights. "And then we got to 1,000, and we said, ‘How can we stop?’" recalls Brozina.

For 3218 nights (and a few mornings where nights were unavoidably missed), via telephone, in theater rehearsal breaks, and returning early from dates, this father and daughter kept the faith and the committment in this enjoyable relationship that they had with each other and the books.

"It was just the two of us," Kristen said. "The Streak was stability when everything else was unstable. It was something I knew would always be there."

NYT says, "From James Marshall's picture books about hippos to middle-school classics like When Zachary Beaver Came to Town to the 14 Oz books, to Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, Dickens, and Shakespeare, they read continuously from when Kristen hit fourth grade until her first day of college. The Streak ended as it began, with L. Frank Baum and the first chapter of his The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

At 61, Brozina's part of a generation that held reading as an almost magical ticket to upward mobility. "I don’t have much money to pass on," he said. "But these books, she’ll read to hers and they’ll read to theirs. And they’ll read to the generations down the lines. It’s a means for me to touch generations I’ll never see. They’ll all be smart."

And this ultimately makes the best case for reading I've ever seen. Bravo, Mr. Brozina.


Miranda Neville said...

This is a lovely story, especially since the reading continued for so many years. Yet I can't help suspecting there are hundreds of mothers out there who might not have quite such a Cal Ripken Jr streak, but have read to their children night after night, year after year, without being regarded as remarkable.

Keira Soleore said...

Miranda, you're right. Ninety percent of parenting is simply showing up day after day, whether you feel like it or not, whether you are ill or well. Going back centuries, mothers should get innumerable rewards for being the unsung heroes. But our society tends to award the flash in the pan guys for doing the unthinkable, the extraordinary.

But what this single dad did was dogged consistency. He went to nearly impossible extents (like halting lovemaking) to go read to his daughter. Dedication to a cause, especially a child, deserves recognition, male or female.

Anna Campbell said...

Isn't that inspiring, Keira? I love the bit about he didn't have much money but he felt he was passing treasure to his daughter by showing her these books. How true is that?

Keira Soleore said...

Ahem. I hope posterity looks on my romance reading with indulgence and not "SHE read THAT p0rny smut?"

Parent reading to child and more so committing completely for the long haul. I admire that very much.

Miranda Neville said...

I agree, Keira, and I didn't want to take anything away from Jim Brozina who is obviously a lovely man and a dedicated father. It must have been wonderful for father and daughter exploring books of increasing complexity over the years.

Keira Soleore said...

Miranda, I didn't think you were attempting to take away. I read your comment as you saying that this sort of recognition needs to be spread far more widely--and appropriately towards the women who have been doing precisely this for eons.