I’m not a big fan of interviews. They just don’t flip my switches. But I couldn’t resist this one with Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona books (among many others).

I remember reading and loving Ramona when I was a kid. I remember even more vividly reading Ramona to both my boys. They are so different from one another, it’s amazing they are biologically from the same two parents (they are).

But both boys adored Ramona.

So what is it about Ramona that elementary aged children, even boys, like so much? Cleary says it well and I’ll say it a bit differently–they identify with her.

Around age seven, kids head into a new stage of development with new interests and new tasks. Many of those involve becoming competent, in kid-like ways.

That might mean learning how to be friends or how to sit still for a little longer. It might mean learning how to keep up with their stuff, make things be it a pinewood derby car or cookies. It might mean learning how to have a good fight and settle differences or how to play baseball or handle a paintbrush.

Ramona is a normal kid, going through normal kid stuff in this stage of growing competencies. It’s a struggle sometimes. It’s funny sometimes. Kids root for and identify with Ramona because that’s where they are at too.

It’s no magic formula. When stories meet kids where they are developmentally, kid and story go click–and said kid loves the story and the book and the reading. Beverly Cleary remembers and understands what it’s like to be six or eight or ten. And six or eight or ten year olds have loved her for a very long time because of it.

Thank you, Beverly, for Ramona and Henry and Ralph S. Mouse and all the other “kids” you’ve introduced us to!