Reading Culture, An Essential culture for all the Contemporary Parents: In the Novel - “The Reading Promise”

“Parenting” is one of the substantial topics of research study since society brought awareness towards child development and the impact of family structure on a child’s upbringing. The societal impact and the norms, culture, ethics of the sector to which the child belongs often make the personality of a child accordingly.

The contemporary parents in particular have a keen interest to not be a parent but rather a friend to their child. Reading culture is such a medium through which parent-child get closer to each other.

“The Reading Promise: 3,218 Nights Reading with My Father”, is a novel whose title explains very precisely what type of book it is. The Book Portrays the story of a Single divorced father and her daughter who had a beautiful father-daughter relationship cause of Reading culture.

Some Promises are worth be kept Forever, Like – “ A Reading Promise”.

We called it “The Reading Streak”, but it was more of a promise. A promise to each other, a promise to ourselves. A promise to be there and never give up. It was a promise of hope in hopeless times. It was a promise of comfort when things got uncomfortable. And we kept our promise to each other.

(Page no: 270, The Reading Promise)

This is a novel that looks more like a daily task performed by every American parent to read books to their children. But this book is more than that, this book is more about a single divorced father who is a librarian in an elementary school and loves to read the book to children which he also does with her younger daughter Alice/Lovie. The book focuses on the father-daughter relationship and their affectionate bond and their journey of how they keep a reading promise which never broke.

Well eventually after some years of life, the promise fades away as time passed and Jim(father) stopped reading books to her daughter (Alice). Jim was a single father who got divorced and living and raising 2 daughters was not an easy task where the societal impact affects a lot on a divorced man. Despite all the barriers he raised 2 daughters beautifully and with good moral values which made them successful in their later years of life.

Jim had a strong bond with Alice as she was young and liked to spend more time with her father. Jim gave a lot of care, attention, and nurturing to Alice. They were more like friends, and as friends, she used to share all her secrets and problems with her father during the night bedtime stories, which was also called “The Streak’s” in which Jim used to read Different lists of novels for 3,218 nights.

Jim –  As a  Positive Father

We can see that Alice and Jim had a very positive father-daughter relationship and in context, to single divorcee fathers it is often noticed that children tend to stay with their mothers rather than fathers.

But the Parenting/fathering of Jim was such that her daughters chose to stay with their father as mother left them for another man. Usually, in a patriarchal context in a divorcee scenario, it is the father who gives divorce, but here the novel portrays the scenario in a different context to portray the importance of a father in a daughter’s life.

Jim traveled with Alice to a lot of places, whether it is mountains, valleys, deep oceans through the imaginary stories they traveled together. They both had an understanding of each other.

Jim grew and lived Alice’s journey as she grew eventually, from the day she is born till the day she is grown into a woman. Being a girl, she had gone through many stages of her life in which adolescence was the most prominent one. It is that stage when most of the girls hide their emotions and personal life with their parents. Due to reading streak, this was not present in Alice behavior, she used to share each and everything of her life; whether it is her low grades in academics, or a fight with a friend, or going on a date with her boyfriend, she used to share each fragment of her life.  

She was never embarrassed in front of her father in any way, this is the major factor that makes Jim a contemporary father where the ideal father deals with all the contemporary issues going on in their children’s life. Jim as a supportive father made her a woman with a strong emotional and mental personality, she was fearless because she had a very positive father in her life. When Alice was in her adolescent stage many things were awkward due to the body changes but Jim normalized that taboo and made her understand that it is all that we are humans.

Usually, fathers face a lot of problems when it comes to raising a girl child because daughters are physically different gender-wise, and the psyche and emotional stability of man and woman differ in many contexts. Despite all these Jim as a father broke all these cultural conflicts and gave Alice a better life without any bad influences and any restrictions in, her life. Jim and Alice celebrated each day with new happiness and new Hope. When they completed 100 nights of reading, they celebrated by eating a pancake in a restaurant.

Although this celebration was not a big event for anyone, they achieved what they wanted to Father’s daughter completed a promise for 100 nights without any change in plans and this should they determination towards each other, they celebrated their promise which they have made with each other.

“My father spent 38 yrs. as an elementary school librarian, and I can say almost without bias that he was the Best around. His students loved him because he was good at what he did – from reading to discipline, to create a general mood of mutual respect, my father was an expert at getting children to love their time in the library.

He was an absolute pleasure to watch almost any given day. On certain days, though, it bordered on cruel and unusual punishment.”

(Page no: 90, Chapter 10, The Reading Promise).

Alice mentioned in the above quote about the qualities which Jim had as a person, she explained that his father was not only an ideal father but an ideal teacher too. Since he was just an Elementary school librarian, he didn’t get much recognition in society but among children he was likable. He had all those qualities which a teacher should have.

Children liked him more because of his soft nature and the humorous way he used to read to the children. When Alice was young, she used to spend time with Jim in his library and used to sleep in the backside of the last benches in the classroom and sometimes used to listen to Jim reading to other kids.

Jim was the reason for Alice to be an Ardent Reader. Jim loved reading books to children, but when he retired and got old then Alice was grown up and looking for a suitable job, that was the time when their streaks go ended.

Jim after retiring used to read books to senior citizens at some old age homes, and sometimes he used to spend time with children who are living in hospitals and used to read books before their surgery. Cause somewhere or the other he still missed his passion of reading books to children, because it was not a hobby but more of a passion that made him feel alive. Reading is the link with Alice’s childhood connection which makes the heart feel more alive every day.

In the end, the book is the best example for every parent to know about parenting is that; “Be a friend to your kid and ultimately you will be a good parent.”

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