Beloved for generations, the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary captures all the complexities of childhood and presents them with warmth, humor, and an unfailing sense of optimism. Ramona chapter books offer widespread appeal as engaging chapter books for young readers or as read-alouds for the entire family.
Ramona Quimby is one of the most memorable characters in children’s literature. She’s an active, energetic, and creative girl who craves a mixture of excitement and stability and struggles with impatience at times. The plots of the Ramona books are timeless, following themes that are perpetually applicable to the lives of children: school, pets, sibling rivalry, and worries, while also promoting the joys of family, friends, holidays, and togetherness.
Ramona is apt to be described as lively, spirited, and irrepressible, but she is also sensitive, kind-hearted, and reflective, especially as the series progresses. Regardless of whatever trouble Ramona encounters along the way, deep down she really just wants her family to be happy. Anything else—her father’s lost job, the family’s financial worries, Ramona’s troubles at school—is just an obstacle in the quest for a happy ending. And the most direct route to the happy ending usually includes a visit to the Whopperburger restaurant for a plateful of fries.
Take our free Ramona checklist to your local library!
Beverly Cleary is, without question, one of the most influential children’s authors of the 20th century. Over the course of her career, she has produced over 30 children’s books, including Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse (don’t miss our Henry Huggins and Ralph S. Mouse series reviews!), Dear Mr. Henshaw, Mitch and Amy, Ellen Tebbits, and, of course, the beloved eight-book Ramona series. Over the past seven decades, Beverly Cleary’s books have sold over 90 million copies.
The Ramona books have enjoyed perennial popularity since the first volume was released in the mid-1950s. Cleary’s unique understanding of childhood and her ability to maintain a completely authentic child’s perspective may be why the Ramona books continue to resonate with young readers decade after decade. The final book in the Ramona series was published in 1999, an impressive 45 years after the first title was released. Add in the pair of Newbery Honors that were awarded to Ramona and Her Father and Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and it’s easy to see why the Ramona books are something special in children’s literature.
Set in the timeless neighborhood of Klickitat Street in Oregon, the eight books follow Ramona Quimby from age four until age nine, from kindergarten through fourth grade. The cast of characters includes jovial and hardworking Mr. Quimby, serene and comforting Mrs. Quimby, sensible older sister Beezus, and an assortment of neighbors and school friends, including dependably boring Howie Kemp and his attention-seeking little sister, Willa Jean. (Ramona’s baby sister Roberta doesn’t make her appearance until Ramona Forever.)
The first book in the series, Beezus and Ramona, is a charming introduction to the Quimby sisters. Ramona, age 4, constantly stirs up mischief (and the ensuing humor makes this volume a great choice for reading aloud), and big sister Beezus is faced with mixed feelings of love for her sister and exasperation over Ramona’s antics.
Ramona starts kindergarten in Ramona the Pest. She quickly discovers the delight of learning to read, the beauty of red rain boots, and the importance of following directions. The youngest readers will empathize with Ramona’s feelings and anxieties; older readers will enjoy the subtle humor when Ramona interprets things too literally.
The eighth book in the series, Ramona Forever, focuses on life changes: the possibility of moving, an aunt’s wedding, the birth of a baby sister, and the death of a pet—topics that many children relate to. Ramona discovers that growing up isn’t always easy, but she handles these changes in a positive way as she matures throughout the book.
Author: Beverly Cleary
Genre: children’s fiction, humor
Interests: family life, friendship, childhood mischief, growing up
Suggested age range: age 8 and up
Gender preference: girls and boys
In the series: 8 books, approximately 200 pages each
Do your kids need a little extra encouragement to read? Take our Ramona Series checklist to your local library and have your child check off books as he reads them.
Read this sweet thank-you note, “Thanks for everything, Beverly Cleary,” published in the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s 100th birthday (April, 2016).
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