Title: Ramona the Pest
Author/Illustrator: Beverly Cleary
Publication Year: 1968
Age Group: Early Elementary, Mid Elementary
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Comments: I tried reading his book to my oldest son when he was a little over 4 years old and he could not have been less interested. However, I just tried again, reading a chapter after I finished eating dinner while the rest of my family was still eating and now at 5 and half years old (a kindergartner like Ramona), my son LOVED it. He would basically beg me to hurry up and eat so that I could read to them.
I was surprised that even my 3 and half year old daughter seemed to really like it as well. It’s not the sort of book that I would read to a 3 and a half year old if that child was my only or oldest, but she got a lot out of listening anyway. She definitely didn’t follow the story completely, but I was surprised when she would ask me questions about the book at odd times throughout our day.
“Mama, did Ramona get stuck in a puddle?”
“What are you talking about? Oh, right! Ramona got stuck in a MUD puddle. Do you remember who rescued her?”
She clearly understood a lot more than I had assumed. My 5 and a half year old understood it completely and was riveted. Just as a warning, Ramona is a bit naughty. She tries her best to be good, but Ramona is, well, Ramona. She’s loud and full of energy. She sometimes says words like stupid or shut up, but only when she’s really upset. She retaliates when a girl in her class calls her a pest by pulling her hair. My kids love hearing about Ramona and the trouble she gets herself into. I also don’t mind having the opportunity to remind my kids about words we should and shouldn’t say and things we should and shouldn’t do when we’re mad.
I do have one “complaint” about this book and that is that the chapters are really, REALLY long for reading to a 3 and 5 year old. The first chapter is 36 pages only 4 of which have pictures. The whole book is 8 chapters long and we finished it in 8 consecutive days reading 20 to 30 minutes a day. The first chapter starts a little bit slow, but once we made it past the first 10 pages, my kids didn’t seem to mind the length at all. I’m glad that it was able to hold their attention much longer than I thought possible, but there were definitely times when I wished the author had the split the chapters up. Of course you could stop in the middle of the chapter, but my kids seemed willing to listen as long as I was willing to read, so we always finished a chapter a day.
Now that we’re done, my son is very happy that there are more Ramona books. He can’t wait to read the next one.
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