Friday, March 19, 2010

Father of the Year, Daughters, and the Bonds that Reading Together Builds

Michael Winerip has an article in today's New York Times that moved me deeply. It is about a father, Mr. Jim Brozina, who is a single parent, and a librarian. He has been raising his younger daughter, Kristen, since his wife left him years ago.

Starting with Kristen being in 4th grade, father and daughter have read to one another from books in what they (and their community) called The Streak. It began with a challenge of reading for 100 consecutive nights, then was extended to 1,000, continued until Kristen was 17, and she went to college.

In the Times article, Kristen is quoted as saying: It was just the two of us. The Streak was stability when everything else was unstable. It was something I knew would always be there.

People kept leaving me, but with The Streak, I knew that nothing would come before The Streak. In high school, I had friends who never talked to their parents. It never occurred to me not to. If someone takes care of you, you want to be with them.

What a wonderful daughter Mr. Brozina has raised! His legacy to her, since he does not have much money, is to give her 700 books that they have read over the years. He has given so much of himself -- his time, his consistency and reliability. He and his daughter have built an incredible bond.

Kristen will be graduating from Rowan University in New Jersey this spring and has been accepted into a Master's degree program at the University of Pennsylvania (but has to work to be able to pay for this program). The wife of one of my former doctoral students, Dr. Jia Wang, is a professor at Rowan's business school so I forwarded this terrific article to her and her husband, Dr. Zugang Liu, who is a professor at Penn State Hazleton. Of course, I will also share this article with my husband, once he wakes up.

Mr. Jim Brozina deserves, at the very least, a Father of the Year award! Best of luck to Kristen Brozina in her future, as well. Thanks to Michael Winerip for writing such a terrific article.