Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ramona the Brave :: Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordTime for another Read Aloud Thursday hosted by Amy at Hope is the Word.

About a week or so back we finished reading Ramona the Brave. I remember reading and loving Ramona growing up. I also loved the television series on PBS starring Sarah Polley (Road to Avonlea). I remember the exact moment when I saw the advertisement for the Ramona show. I was at a friends house and was just ecstatic. They didn't care nearly as much as I did, as I recall. Did anyone else ever watch this series growing up? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Since I have fond memories of Ramona from my childhood years, I have been eager to introduce my children to her. I also feel it an obligation, of sorts, to do so being that Beverly Cleary was born and raised in Oregon. At some point, we're going to have to go visit the Beverely Cleary Sculpture Garden up in Portland. But probably not until we've read Henry and Ribsy as well.

I mention all of the above to introduce the fact that I finally decided that my oldest, Bookworm1 (age 5 3/4) was probably ready to read Ramona. We began with Ramona the Brave. I have to say that all my happy nostalgic feelings sort of fizzled away with this reading. I never realized how much of a brat Ramona can be! She is big on hissy fits and boy do she and Beezus ever not get along! It's almost painful for me to read.

And yet . . .

Ramona says and does such funny things. Reading about six year old Ramona to an almost-six-year-old informs me that Cleary clearly understood children. She gets them. Ramona was an easy character for Bookworm1 to identify with - and laugh at. His favorite part was by far and away was when Howie comes over to play Brick Factory.

"Let's get started," said Ramona, running to the garage and returning with two big rocks she and Howie used in playing Brick Factory, a simple but satisfying game. Each grasped a rock in both hands and with it pounded a brick into pieces and the pieces into smithereens. The pounding was hard, tiring work. Pow! Pow! Pow! Then they reduced the smithereens to dust. Crunch, crunch, crunch. They were no longer six-year-olds. They were the strongest people in the world. They were giants. (Chapter 3, The Hole in the House)

We were reading the book downstairs in our basement and I was trying to make the scene sound as ridiculously funny as possible. Bookworm1 laughed so hard and so loudly that Daddy heard us upstairs.

His second favorite part was when Ramona gets scared of having the book in her room which includes a scary picture of a gorilla. She finally gets the idea to offer the book to her dad, so that he'll take it out of her room. She doesn't want to admit that she's scared so she just tells him of the book, "I think you'll like it." Bookworm1 got some giggles out of that one also.

Bookworm1 really liked our Ramona experience. I had a harder time with it. I had to wrestle with my thoughts throughout the entire read. "Do I really want him hearing stories about siblings who can't stand each other?" "Oh my, do I really want him thinking it's funny when the child is so disobedient?" Ramona is not the girl I remember when I was eight years old and more undiscerning. (Ha) However, we did read it and immediately moved on to Beezus and Ramona which I like even less from the sibling perspective. My kids don't exactly need encouragement to know how to not get along with each other! We're still reading it but I have stopped after a sentence or paragraph and asked what they thought of Ramona's or Beezus's behavior . . . and what they thought the consequences would be in our house if I witnessed any such actions from my children. They seem to get that Ramona's behavior isn't always acceptable, but it's funny in a "I-can't-believe-she-did-that" sort of way. As long as we stay there with it, I'm ok with continuing to read. I still think my kids ought to know who Ramona is as a character. And it's good to talk about bad behavior as displayed by a book character rather than our individual selves. (Ha again!)

As Bookworm1 grows, I know we'll have more of these issues with book characters but I think that's ok. (I'm telling myself that's ok.) If we learn to be discerning and grapple with issues in the stories we read, and learn how to correctly apply truth to our lives, then we're good. And we're having fun, spending time with one another and laughing.

So far so good. I still have more to learn!


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

You know what? I think it's perfectly okay to read stories about less-than-model behavior. Paragons of virtue don't make very interesting heros or heroines. ;-). Besides, how realistic would it be if their only interaction with each other was all sweetness and light? The truth is we are all sinful humans, and while we shouldn't glorify sin, to make every story perfect would also make them untrue.

I love the Ramona stories. The Harper (?) audiobooks are excellent. My favorite scene (not sure which book it's in) us the "I want some PTA!!!!!!" scene.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I'm definitely with Amy on this issue. I think kids need to feel that there are others in this world that struggle with the same things they do. Plus, a little fantasy safety valve can be good. Us boys may not dream of being princesses, but we sure would love to make a mess and horrify our mothers.

I loved Ramona as a kid - she was my favorite Cleary character. Perhaps it was fun to fantasize about being a younger sibling, rather than having to the be one held to the highest standard of behavior ;)

I had no idea that there was a TV show, but we didn't watch much when I was that age.

And yes, I spent a portion of my childhood playing "brick factory."

Annette Whipple said...

So I was very curious as to what you would think of these bc I think when I read them aloud to my students I realized what a brat she was, at times.

That said, I like your discussion of the attitudes and consequences. I agree...would rather read together than independently.

Recently I took Ivy and Bean from the library to see if I wanted M to read it on her own. No. Next up, Nate the Great. We'll see. Just trying to find shorter books.

Alison said...

If bookworm1 likes these books, you have to add Cleary's book Otis Spofford to your list. I remember all of us laughing so hard when my mom read them to us. Plus it is geared more toward boys.

Sherry said...

I watched those Ramona movies with my older children, and I thought they were wonderful. I'm not sure that children copy what they read about in books as much as they identify with characters who are struggling with the same issues they struggle with. They're able to see that Ramona usually gets herself into trouble and misses out on good stuff when she misbehaves.

Sky said...

I *LOVED* Ramona when I was a kid, I can still see the orange hardback copy of my favorite in the series.

Now that our oldest is old enough to talk about wrong behavior and better reactions to situations I am reading books and allowing movies (Like Lilo and Stitch) that have less than ideal child behaviour and conversations.(He's our sponge)
The line I DO NOT cross is the mamby-pamby father figure who is portrayed as an idiot and is considered to be the walnut brained court jester.

I remember feeling assured that Ramona wasn't a perfect child, that everyone makes mistakes.

I tried to name our daughter Ramona but Mr didn't like it enough. SIGH

The only movie I've seen is the newest Disney edition with Selena Gomez, which I loved and my boys were a little, well ok, totally bored with!

Unknown said...

Now, Carrie, she was Ramona the PEST after all. :) Just kidding--I completely understand what you are saying, and I think it's great that you are discussing the behavior, but I will always love Ramona. As you said, Clearly portrayed the mind of a child masterfully. I LOVED Ramona as a child, and I vividly remember connecting with her in Ramona the Pest. Her actions were so often sincere, but misunderstood by the grown-ups, and that is so frustrating to children. This series is a beloved favorite of mine!

Shonya said...

I was quite interested to see this title show up on your blog. I was a huge Ramona fan as a child as well, but some of my "homeschooling mom" friends aren't letting their children read them b/c of the brat factor. I'm not a fan of all her behavior, of course, but I don't remember ever modeling my behavior after her--my parents' training was too firmly ingrained! (onto my behind,chuckle)

Another fun series with the cute, ornery younger sibling are the Sam books (Attaboy, Sam, for example by Lois Lenski--and we didn't read the Anastasia books of the same series about the older sister). I'm remembering three of them and he's more ornery/innocent and less naughty than Ramona. You might enjoy them with your boys as well.

*carrie* said...

I loved Ramona books when I was a kid.

By the way, I finally made the taco pizza last night. Very tasty!

Stephanie Kay said...

I'm not a huge fan of her bratishness but I've allowed my kids to read the Ramona books. I much prefer the Henry and Ribsy series because of the lack of bratish behavior. Just highly imaginative kids getting into scrapes.

Carrie said...

@StephaniesMommyBrain- Oh, that's good to know. I was kinda wondering whether or not to launch into Henry and Ribsy or let that sit for awhile. I remember reading EVERY Cleary book I could get my hands on as a kid. I just can't remember what the stories were anymore. ;)

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