Saturday, April 2, 2011

What We've Been Reading Post 2: Revisiting the books of Beverly Cleary

As a child, I loved loved loved the Ramona series. I know that I read every one of them and I thought they were just wonderful. The dynamics of the relationship between Beezus and Ramona were so fascinating to me because I am an only child and certainly had none of the experiences with a sibling that these girls seemed to always be having. It was like peeking in on some foreign other world.
And rereading them today, with my children, they continue to give me a great deal of insight that I otherwise would not have. I struggle to understand what it might be like for Hunter and Ronin when they become so annoyed and frustrated with one another. It is nice to read the stories about Ramona and Beezus which offer a bit of comfort to me
I like how the stories pretty much stand on their own and so the books are perfect for us at this point in our journey into chapter books. Sometimes Ronin likes to listen. Sometimes she does not. No matter what, however, she doesn't really need to know what happened in the previous chapter in order to enjoy the chapter I'm reading on the day she decides to join us.
The stories are sweet and funny and filled with mischief. Ramona's character reminds me so much of Ronin so we can all relate to the funny things she does.
We are also reading the Henry Huggins series, also by Beverly Cleary. Unlike the Ramona books, I had never read Henry's books before. I love how they take place in the same location and time as the Ramona books. Beezus and Ramona are even characters in the books.
Henry's books are different than the Ramona books. Henry is always getting himself into silly situations but everything turns out really well at the end. He is an entreprenur and he is constantly coming up with ways to make or save money. He sets goals and works very hard to achieve them. He doesn't expect something for nothing.
The Henry books, also set (and written) in the 1950s, give us a great opportunity to discuss inflation and how times have changed regarding safety and how we aren't as free to roam as children because it's considered to be dangerous. Hunter even noticed that Henry doesn't have television in his house and so we talked about how Henry spent his time without tv and video games.
Whether you read all of Cleary's books many moons ago or if you are just now hearing about her for the first time, consider picking up the first book in both the Henry and the Ramona series. They are all such delightful novels with timeless humor and include situations to which most any kid could relate.

What about you? Did you read these books as a child? Are your children reading them now?

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  1. We are reading Henry Huggins, too. Right now it's Henry and the clubhouse. I actually like them a bit better than the Ramona books.

  2. I'm pretty sure Cleary is my favorite children's author of all time. She knows children, and knows how to write about them, and for them. We've read all her stories as a family, and my eight year old just started reading "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" to me - there's nothing like hearing her stories read in a child's voice!

  3. Hi! I'm stopping by through the WMCIR link-up.
    I did read MANY Beverly Cleary books when I was growing up. My daughters are now loving her books...they are wonderful!

  4. Best kids chapter books ever! I LOVED the Ramona books as a kid, but didn't get to experience the Henry Huggins book till I read them to my own children. I think what I love best about them, as an adult, is just how authentic they are. Beverly Clearly really *got* kids... their behavior, their feelings, their ups and down. Love it.

  5. I was not raised on English-language kid-lit and didn't read anything by Beverly Cleary yet. Of course, this is about to change soon, and I am hoping to read some of her books alongside or together with my daughter. Thanks for sharing your favorite author with WMCIR!


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