Ramona Is My Hero and The One Where I Ask You For Help

One of the best parts of being a teacher is my daily read aloud. For at least 10 minutes every day I get to connect with my students through what teachers call a “shared book experience” – one which creates a sense of community, fosters a love of the written word and helps my students become better readers through teacher modeling.

We laugh, we cry, we always ask for another chapter…

But enough about them, let’s talk about me. 

I read to my students because I love it. It feels good to share something with them that I love so much. Seeing their little faces light up and watching them lean towards me as they fall into the story sometimes brings tears to my eyes. Everyday during this one special time, I think to myself, I can’t believe they pay me for this.

Often I’ve wondered if anyone else experiences this feeling and yesterday one of my dear friends posted an advertisement for the library looking for volunteers and she claimed she’d “mow people down to have a chance at being a pre-school storytime reader. ”

Exactly.

So how exactly did I develop my love of reading? 

Was it watching my mom and dad read at home?

Honestly I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have my nose buried in a book.

Growing up, I was obsessed with Ramona Quimby. During my second and third grade years my teacher, Mrs. Meloncon {love her!}, encouraged us to read for pleasure and she read out loud to us every day. We’d crowd on floor around her feet {seeing, of course, who could be closest} and quiet down and listen carefully.

Was it her who introduced us to this naughty little girl and all the deliciousness of a good book?

My best friends, Vicki and Karla, and I would race to the library each week trying to get our hands on Ramona’s latest adventures around her Northeast Klickitat Street neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. We traded books back and forth and wiped the public library shelves clean. It would seem, we couldn’t get enough.

Ramona the Pest, Beezus and Ramona, Ramona The Brave, Ramona and Her Father… always with the likable little pesky sister. Oh wait! Maybe that’s why we loved Ramona! We saw ourselves in her. Little girls trying to follow our inner voices while sometimes getting our feelings hurt and sometimes hurting other people’s feelings. Making mistakes and sometimes getting into trouble.

I love Ramona to this day. A couple of Halloween’s ago, I even dressed as Ramona and all the women at the party I attended that night told me about their deep love of the sometimes trouble-maker, Ramona.

So dear readers, this year I am without a class to read aloud to. This year I will be reading to my baby girl, Ruby. It’s my sincerest hope I am able to pass on my love of reading to our new daughter.

Do you read to your kids/students? Do you have any tips to share for reading with babies? Any favorite books?

14 thoughts on “Ramona Is My Hero and The One Where I Ask You For Help

  1. Oh Tam… The whole term “good mom” is so loaded and fascistic-simplistic, I know, but jeez, you will be such a good mom to the Ru, as you so adorably refer to her. The love that you have for reading to kids, and eating delicious food, and speaking the truth, and standing up for it, and loving good music, and and and… is going to pour out of you and people are gonna take notice, most importantly you, Jed and Ru are going to notice. This is my wish and my opinion both. And yes, come to think of it, I also have a vivid, visceral memory of the size, smell, texture, sounds and colorful books on a center shelf in my local library that I would race to, or at least my heart was racing with glee, to get my little paws on the next Ramona book. Or any Beverly Cleary books, though Ramona was by far my favorite flavor. She is a star. I never wanted to see any movies about her, and risk wearing away the activity of my own image of her. Thanks for sharing this. I grew up in a bookstore, where both my parents worked, and the love for books is lasting. Walking through Borders, I felt like I was walking through the rubbles and ruins of a once thriving kingdom whose walls were now dismantled and grown over with vines and brambles. I hope books stay books, and the whole kindle thing stinks of sterility to me. I see “dry erase” boards replacing coloring books, and I feel like an apple doll grandmother wagging her head. Okay, if I had kids, I’d surely see that crayons and Dr Seuss are alive and well and staying right here, right? Seuss and Silverstein and Cleary and LeGuin and Grimm’s and… oh, yes, another memory of childhood, this time I was 14 and working at the bookstore (Kepler’s in Menlo Park, Ca, largest independent bookstore east of the Mississipi) and the cover illustration of “Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins caught my eye. Hmm. Such a lovely bird, a woodprint maybe? Let’s open this one up… Welcome to my first adult fiction title. And so it goes.

    Love and light to you, Tami. Have a great day. Thanks for all you teach me.

    • The writing of Beverly Cleary lives actively in my thoughts to to this day. I was the youngest of 4 so I was “pest” much of my young life. Boo! The scene I always think of though is when Beezus is struggling in art class and finally succeeds in making it all work out with her dragon with the lollipops down the back. That inner struggle really is so timeless!
      You, needless to say, will love reading to your daughter. It is such a time of bonding. Theo and I just recently went through his picture books and he thoughtfully picked the ones we read most to “save for the grandkids”. Heartmelt. There were challenging things though like he would NEVER let me read Winnie the Pooh to him. What was up with that? I love those stories! He liked Richard Scarry all the time which weren’t my personal favorites. I did not know I would find a thorn in such a place as reading to my child.. It all evens out when he currently uses quotes and references from books we read. That is awesome!

  2. O to the M to the G. I was a Beverly Cleary freakazoid clearing the shelves of her stuff at El Sobrante (El Sob 31) Elementary. Ness is right about repetition… Most of Hop on Pop is probably memorized. Goodnight, Moon… such a simple, gentle, lovely book. I personally think it almost doesn’t matter what you read when they are tiny babies as long as you are reading to them. And then of course all the Dr. Seuss you can stand because it sounds so cool. And you do all of this all the time because you love it and one day Ruby will be sitting on the couch and get annoyed with you when you interrupt her while she is reading to herself. This WILL happen.

  3. Oh, I remember the books and characters that loved as a child, too (Ramona, Madeleine…). Such great memories.
    Reading to Noah is a joy for me. We have a routine. He picks out books every night, and I read to him before he falls asleep. I also say Goodnight Moon and/or The Big Red Barn quietly to him (they’re memorized, so I don’t get the book out) as he tries to fall asleep. He finds it calming.
    About your last sentence, surely she will share your love of books. I’m so glad Noah (and Gabriel so far) loves them.

  4. The only tip I have for reading to toddlers (not babies as much) is to get ready for a crapload of repetition. I think I can still recite One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish from my nannying days.

    Book nerds foster book nerds. You can probably go ahead and start constructing Ruby’s own Ramona hat.

    And thanks for the shout-out! I’m pretty excited about pre-school storyteller orientation tomorrow!

  5. oh my heavens, did i love ramona, especially since i was a little sister, too.

    we read to lucy and gus when they were babes. they especially loved picture books with real pics of babies, kids, and animals. seems like they were most fascinated with the books about emotions. book-buying tip: thrift stores! babies and kids do not care if the book lacks that “new book” smell. and they tear it up when it’s a fave. the picture books about carl the rottweiler were popular. they loved “i am a bunny” about the changing seasons. of course they loved (and still love) books about children behaving badly.

  6. I love this post! We’ve made it a tradition to tell stories every night before bed since they were babies. You’ll love it and so will Ruby.

    We’ve always kept a bookshelf in the kids’ room loaded with books. There’s a study that suggests just seeing books present is enough to encourage kids to read. I think that’s pretty amazing!

  7. Tami, I love this so very much. I was also obsessed with Ramona! In fact, I’ve already told Matt that our next dog will be named Quimby. Beverly Cleary had a real gift for writing for children. She tapped in to children’s sensitive, inquisitive natures and her stories were entertaining for kids and adults, alike.

    I was a substitute for a while and one of my favorite books that I read to a class of 3rd graders was Falling For Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox. It is a very silly spin on the Rapunzel story in which Rapunzel cannot quite hear what the prince is yelling out to her. For instance, instead of throwing down her braid, she throws down her maid. I loved reading this story to the kids. They were so engaged, and it felt so great to hear them laugh at the silly and fun story while their eyes were fixed on me, waiting to hear the next part.

    I don’t have any tips for reading to Ruby, but she is one lucky babe who will have so much fun with a reader mom.

  8. Oh, you are going to love reading to Ruby! I was a huge Ramona fan as well. I remember a Halloween-themed book with a black and orange cover to this day (and I have boys who aren’t into Ramona, so I haven’t seen it recently). I really think that kids model what they see. I probably have the only elementary school kids in the country who race for the newspaper every morning! I’d also add that we have been vigilant with a no video game/Wii/gaming system rule in our house. (Not trying to be judgmental, this is just us.) I know it sounds extreme but I know it is why my kids play baseball, practice piano, or pick up a book when they have time on their hands. So excited for you!!!

    • hollee: i read ramona the pest and beezus and ramona to my class last year and my male students LOVED it. i was unsure at first because i always assumed they were “girl” books because i’d loved them so much, but they quickly identified with her impulsive nature, sassiness and since many of them had little sisters they made a connection to their own lives. they especially loved when she kept pulling the girl’s boingy curls and pretending she had a pet lizard ralph. i also worried they’d be too old fashioned and they held the test of time for the most part.

      no gaming system in the house is our plan too. neither jed nor i got the video game bug growing up, so we’re hoping to not start now. lots of art supplies, musical instruments and outside time for us.

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