I just finished “reading” the Ramona Quimby series with my kids for the first time. I had read other books by Beverly Cleary, who is still alive and well at 104 years old, in the past and I loved them.
As a kid, I was mostly into Matt Christopher books about sports, or the scary RL Stine Goosebumps series, or other “boy” books that I was interested in.
My first two children were girls and my oldest just finished third grade. She is a voracious reader and I have encouraged that by reading together at night before bedtime. She will read me a few chapters of something and then we will listen to an audiobook together.
We started reading the Ramona Quimby series on roadtrips of 1+ hours long on trips to the mountains or to my brother’s house on the other side of town and even on the way to school sitting at lights in traffic. Now, even on the way to the store or shorter trips we love putting on the latest book we are “reading” as a family.
Having just completed the Ramona Quimby series, I feel like now is a good time to “review” it and offer my insight. For a child over 5 years old, this is a great series that is engaging and relatable to their life stage. In the first book, Ramona Quimby isn’t even in kindergarten yet and exasperates her older sister, Beezus constantly. She starts as this irascible child that is driving everyone crazy, who, by the time she is in the fourth grade in the final book, has matured into an agreeable, fun-loving zero-teen year old “teenager.”
Reading the entire series in less than a year, it was wonderful to see Ramona’s transformation book to book. I think Cleary did a fabulous job of keeping her character consistent as she moved from milestone to milestone. My kids and I were always smiling and laughing together as a new experience caught her off guard or she got in trouble as she navigated each situation. I think they learned that new things can be scary but each person needs to learn to figure out how to move forward in their own way. I think reading the book helped bring up topics that may never have come up in normal conversation with the kids.
About the audiobook, Stockard Channing was excellent. I loved listening to the book and I hope to re-read it sometime soon, even as the kids grow up, maybe when my youngest is five.