Beverly Cleary


Younger children often label themselves as “dumb” or think they are incapable because of common mistakes made by everyone.  A series of books designed especially to show young readers they are not weird in any way is Ramona, by Beverly Cleary.  In each of these stories, Ramona, who is a second and then third grader, complicates her life in humorous but realistic ways.  In one, she gets to make one of her first trips to the store alone.  Thinking she is lost, she learns from the grocer to retrace her steps and turns to get home.  Once when she is late to school, it is the result of a miscommunication about the time.  Her mother tells her to set her new alarm clock for a quarter after eight.  Ramona thinks “a quarter is 25 cents, so I’ll set my clock for 25 after eight.”  She learns her mistake after several uneasy moments, including arriving at school after the crossing guards have gone in.  And there there are the stories of misunderstood words.  The Dawn’s Early Light becomes Donzer Lee Light, a person Ramona does not understand. These are typical foibles to which most kids relate.  The books tend to emphasize how normal and common these mistakes are.