According to dictionary.com:
1. a long, narrow mark, smear, band of color, or the like: streaks of mud.
2. a portion or layer of something, distinguished by color or nature from the rest; a vein or stratum: streaks of fat in meat.
3. a vein, strain, or admixture of anything: a streak of humor.
4. Informal .
a spell or run: a streak of good luck.
b. an uninterrupted series: The team had a losing streak of ten games.
5. a flash leaving a visible line or after effect, as of lightning; bolt.
Therefore, the phrase “reading streak” could fairly be defined as: an uninterrupted period in which I and my son have read together on a daily basis, so far lasting for more than one year.
Why a reading streak? My son, Nick, is 12 years old, and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. He was 11 when we began the reading streak, and he is a reluctant reader at best. It is more accurate to say that he is not a fan of reading, which is what he would tell you if you had occasion to speak to him. But he does love stories. A year or so ago, I read an article on NPR about a book written by a young woman named Alice Ozma called “The Reading Promise” which described her father/daughter reading streak that lasted over 9 years.
To say that this inspired me is an understatement. I’ve always read aloud to my kids, but I can’t say that we had done so with that much consistency. My daughter, age 15 at the time, was much too busy to make a commitment with me. But my son, not only was he young enough to still enjoy reading aloud, he struggles with reading. I felt that I could really benefit him, his skills, his vocabulary and his language, by making this commitment to read together every single night for a year. And so, beginning on October 1, 2011, we started our reading streak.
In that year, we’ve read The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth Speare, Bull Run, by Paul Fleischman, The Tower at the End of the World by Brad Strickland, and then, we made what felt like an ambitious decision to read the entire Harry Potter series aloud. All 4,500 or so pages of it. And so we did – we read our way through the shorter three books fairly quickly. At some point during the series, it became almost one long book for me as I, again, read the books that I have loved for so many years, this time sharing them with Nick. I cackled like Bellatrix, and spoke in a motherly tone as Molly Weasley, and he suffered – mostly without complaining, although not without laughing – with my often inconsistent and semi-ridiculous attempts at a British accent. As we drew nearer to the end of The Deathly Hallows, we both started feeling a bit sad that the experience of reading the series together was coming to a conclusion. We finished the series on Saturday, September 29, almost a year to the day after starting our reading streak. This has literally been an experience I will never forget.
So, every single day – rain or shine, convenient or inconvenient – Nick and I have spent time reading together. There have been days when we knew he was spending a night at a friends that we got up early and read for 20 minutes before I left for work. We have read over the phone when he has been on visits to his grandparent and when I was on my anniversary trip in Las Vegas. We’ve read on camping trips. And this commitment that we’ve undertaken makes it impossible for us to say “not tonight.” Because who wants to break a streak?
We’ve continued the streak, by moving on to Margaret Peterson Haddix’s series about The Shadow Children, and we’ve read Among the Hidden and Among the Imposters. We are taking a break from that series to read The Hobbit aloud in preparation for the Peter Jackson movie to be released in December. I have a number of books planned for the continuation of our streak, which we have extended: finishing The Shadow Children, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and, perhaps The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander or Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence, or the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan.
We’re shooting for 1001 nights at this point. Call me Scheherazade.