The Wisdom of Wee Ones

Our childhoods – sometimes they feel close (like when I get a boo-boo), at other times, way too far away. In Alice Ozma‘s The Reading Promise, she gives us an account of a reading tradition she began with her father when she was nine years old. Now she’s been visiting with nine year olds, and lots of other elementary school aged laddies and lassies, to talk about her book. There’s no denying that very little ones, while sometimes lacking verbal filters (I recently had a three year old tell me that my hair is “like a witch”), do possess a certain charisma for that very reason. Here’s Alice.

I’ve always been a big fan of kids. They are charming, honest, and small. They have lots of energy and usually very colorful clothes. They smell like Magic Markers. And no matter how many stuffy adults may interview you, they always ask the best questions.

Lately, I’ve been going around the country to promote my new book, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared. I’ve made a few school visits, and every time, I am blown away by the creativity these kids muster up when asking questions. Some of those questions are particularly memorable. Here are a few of my favorites from school visits, along with the (far less amusing) answers I gave them.

Is your hair real? Yes, but only sort of. It grew out of my head, but it didn’t look like this. I have highlights, which I am growing out, and I henna my hair (think of those brown temporary tattoos you get on the Boardwalk), because I’m a bit of a hippy. My natural color is, as my father says, “rat brown.”

What is the cover of your book made out of? The more I think about this, the more I think it’s actually a pretty great question. I really don’t know how to describe it! I am guessing it is a super thick cardboard, but when you call it cardboard, it sounds rather cheap. There must be a fancier term for it, but I don’t know it.

Are you afraid people won’t like your book? I used to be. I was afraid that they’d write horrible things about it online. But I learned to stop Googling myself, and that helps. All of the emails I get are very positive. My experience thus far tends to tell me that people, or at least the vast majority, are incredibly nice. Really, it is almost shocking how nice everyone has been to me. Even the adults.

You’re pretty. That’s not a question. But thank you.

Is there going to be a movie? Maybe. I’ll most likely sell the rights to one, but there are a whole lot of steps between selling the rights and actually hitting the big screen. I think it could be fun, though. I just hope they will leave out my chubby period.

Where’s your dad? Kids ask this a lot. Apparently, they think reading together for so many nights should have literally attached us at the hip. Depending on the day, the answer for this varies from reading to seniors to going on hot dates. He’s been spending a lot of time on eHarmony and Match.com. When kids ask, I usually just say he’s sleeping. They seem to find that very funny.

Do you always wear glasses? This was in reference to the cover of my book, where the picture cuts off at my shoulders so you can’t see any of my face. It’s a picture of me as perhaps a ten-year-old, so the answer would be no, in that case: I didn’t get glasses until 8th grade. Even now, I only wear them for distance. I don’t think they are ugly, though. Glasses are a great excuse to have something shiny on your face.

Will you go down the giant inflatable slide they put up in our gym today? Heck yes.

Alice Ozma is the author of The Reading Promise, which you can read an excerpt of for free on Figment here. You can also find Alice online at www.makeareadingpromise.com.

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