Thursday, April 11, 2013
The Reading Promise
I relate to The Reading Promise. A single father, who works as an elementary school librarian, reads aloud to his daughter every night. They first set a goal to read every day for 100 days. Upon meeting their goal they extend "the streak" to a new goal of 10,000 days but their streak ends in the 3000's when Alice Ozma leaves home to attend college. Alice tells not only the story of their reading but of a unique father/daughter relationship and her coming of age. The father retires early when new principals and board members no longer see the need for a well organized library of all the best books nor the librarian who brings those books to life for students. Computers take over the space squeezing out the bibliophile who created magic and readers.
The end of the book with the story of a library lost really resonated with me. As a former librarian, I have watched several districts in Arizona discontinue the librarian position and replace it with aides and/or limited library time. I always felt like the library was the true heart of a good school and a refuge for people like myself and Alice and her father. At the conclusion of her book, Alice Ozma challenges the readers of her book to not only read aloud to their children but to also share the books they read with others. I guess that is why I share most of what I read on this blog. to encourage more reading.
I read the House Girl by Tara Conklin quickly. I couldn't put it down. It might be historical fiction but it reads more like a mystery with moral questions. Three voices from the past will haunt you; Josephine, a house girl on a Virginia plantation in the mid 18oo's; Dorthea, who along with her parents help those escaping via the Underground Railroad; and a disgraced doctor who becomes a "slave doctor." These voices intermingle with that of a modern cooperate lawyer, Lina, who delves into their stories as part of a possible reparations suit in behalf of the descendants of slaves. Lina is also trying to unravel her own family secrets. I found it interesting to read the story behind the author's writing of the House Girl. Tara Conklin was also a lawyer who finally quit to have the time to write. It was fascinating to learn how the term "slave doctor" created a mind picture which became a first novel.