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Ramona the Pest



Ramona tale helps young kids build empathy.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value

Young readers get a glimpse of the ins and outs of an educational institution as Ramona goes through a regular day of school. Ramona and other students play at recess, encounter a substitute teacher, and meet with the principle when an issue arises.

Positive messages

Ramona seems to admire many of the adult figures in this book, especially Miss Binney, her kindgarten teacher. She acknowledges their authority and wisdom, despite the fact that she often acts and talks back out of place. Ramona's adoration for her teachers may encourage readers to act in a similar fashion in which they learn to respect their elders and other authority figures.

Positive role models

In the midst of all the chaos and trouble often unintentionally caused by Ramona, the school teachers seem to be responsible and positive role models for the little kindergartener. Miss Binney, for example, acknowledges Ramona's hair-pulling in class and rightfully rebukes her actions. Despite her faults, Ramona is a widely-relatable character going through the common fear of entering school for the first time.

Violence & scariness

Many scenes of juvenile naughtiness such as hair pulling, temper tantrums, and crayon throwing.


Several instances involving name-calling ("crybaby," "tattletale," "pest") and disrespectfully talking back to elders/authority figures.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ramona the Pest is the second book in the Ramona series, which begins with Beezus and Ramona. Its sparkling writing style and humorous story line are both engaging and highly appealing. Although referred to as a "pest," Ramona is a young protagonist with pure intentions and common fears. Writing may contain some big words that might require further definition when being read to/by younger readers. Art ranges from simple sketches to detailed line drawings and complements the text well.

What's the story?

Ramona has waited all her life for kindergarten, and the day is finally here! So, is this rambunctious 5-year-old ready for all the rites of passage and life lessons that go along with it? This is a humorous and charming chapter in the ongoing saga of one of America's favorite little pests.

Is it any good?


Rarely has any author had such compassionate, yet droll, insight into young children. Beverly Cleary has a unique talent for getting inside her characters' heads -- there are few books as good for building empathy in young children as the Ramona series. Even when Ramona is at her worst, the reader always has humorous sympathy for her. The author is also expert at writing in a language that speaks to a kid's imagination, and illustrator Louis Darling provides charming line drawings.

Older kids enjoy looking back at their not-too-distant kindergarten years. Ramona helps children understand others -- and themselves. Even though the book is filled with pesky juvenile behavior, it's almost always curtailed and corrected by parents and teachers. And Ramona isn't all bad; one tender moment about sharing a red ribbon shows Ramona has more sides to her personality than just pest.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about misunderstandings. Do you understand Ramona's point of view? Have you ever felt like she does?

  • How do you think this second book in the series compares with the first? Do you like it as much? More? Less?

  • Do you think Ramona's a pest?

Book details

Author:Beverly Cleary
Illustrator:Louis Darling
Genre:Family Life
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:William Morrow
Publication date:February 1, 1992
Number of pages:192

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Adult Written byMamiola April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008

when you need a good laugh

all of the ramona books are usually funny and sometimes so ridiculous that you blink and reread the section you've just read to make sure you've read it right. they are the type of books that are perfect for when you really need a good laugh. and they have influenced me more than i care to admit. ramona has a strange obsession with pulling the curly hair of a classmate and shouting "boing!" i read the book when i was eight, and to this day, whenever i am talking to a friend of mine who has very curly hair, at some point in the conversation i reach out, tug a curl, and say boing. she's resigned to it by now.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008