The first book of Beverly Cleary’s eight-book series about Ramona Quimby, Beezus and Ramona, was my first book. My mom and I began the series when I was four, when Ramona was about my age. In Beezus and Ramona, Ramona is introduced as an annoying younger sister who pulls tricks such as taking one bite of every apple in a box, just for fun. Throughout the series, Ramona is portrayed as a mischievous, creative elementary-school girl with a vibrant personality, which leads to adventure and trouble in the books, Ramona the Pest and Ramona the Brave.
As a young reader, it can be comforting to relate to a character such as Ramona. Ramona’s adventures can also help the reader know what to expect as they enter future grades, and they can even extrapolate advice from Ramona’s stories. The reader gets the best of both worlds—Ramona can not only act as a friend who is fun to laugh at, but also never get the reader in trouble because she is fictional.
Later on in the series, the author shifts the focus to Ramona’s family life with the books Ramona and Her Father and Ramona and Her Mother. Through Ramona, I was able to understand sibling relationships because I never had that experience for myself. The last few books in the series, Ramona Quimby, Age 8; Ramona Forever and Ramona’s World, allow the readers to fully experience growing up with Ramona as she embarks on the rest of elementary school and takes on new challenges, such as the addition of a baby sister.
Throughout the series, I grew with Ramona. I was entertained by her naughtiness while simultaneously finding comfort in her as my first friend. While I began the series with my mom reading out loud to me, by the end of the eight books, I was reading on my own. The Ramona Quimby series was my introduction to reading, and fostered my love for it.