Oh man, did I love Ramona Quimby as a kid. When one of my young readers begged to dive into Ramona and Her Father as our next virtual one-on-one readaloud, I couldn’t believe my luck.
This reader has grown tremendously this year with the work of her dedicated team – she receives a mix of live instruction, asynchronous work, and enrichment activities from our amazing team at school to keep her growing and learning throughout the day. She and I meet live three times a week to chat, participate in social emotional check-ins and activities, and to read together. Early in the collaborate planning process with her family and the school, we decided that our time together would be designed specifically to give her connection and control, which means she is in the drivers’ seat with our readalouds. So, with my reader in control, we happily headed to Klickitat Street!
It has been even more fun than I expected to share this book and experience it through the giggles and gasps of one of my favorite six-year-olds. We meet on Google Meet, I load the book on the Libby app (an app that my local library uses for easy access to ebooks and audiobooks), and then I share my screen as we read together. This allows us to take turns reading, look at illustrations, and allows my reader to practice tracking, following along, and reading to herself. She enjoys our one-on-one time so much, she even requested that we extend our virtual time together to fit more reading in. In the time of virtual learning, the mute button, and endless online meetings, there is no greater compliment than requesting extra time on the screen with a teacher.
We both laughed so hard we almost cried at the infamous Nosmo King episode. Do you remember this part? Ramona learns that smoking is unhealthy and wreaks havoc at home trying to passive agressively convince her father to quit. She leaves notes in his shoes, creates posters for the refrigerator, replaces his cigarettes with tiny rolled-up slogans… I couldn’t believe how much I remembered from this chapter, almost twenty years later. Now that’s a character that sticks with you! As a bonus, Beverly Cleary’s clever writing speaks to all little sisters and kids that can’t wait to grow up – which provides us with endless opportunities for social emotional conversations. Armed with my favorite questions – How do you think Ramona is feeling right now?, How can you tell?, Have you ever felt like that?, and What would you do if you were Ramona, and why? – we get to the lovely and difficult parts of pandemic life without my having to do much digging. This time-tested story provides such valuable ways to connect.