There are 8 books featuring Ramona Quimby, and the books were written over a 44 year period, from 1955 with Beezus and Ramona (1955) to Ramona’s World. To a very large extent, the series is the tale of two sisters; Ramona is the younger sibling of Beezus, and we see the two grow older and their relationship change as they move through school.
In the initial two books, Ramona is a “pest.” Ramona the Pest (1968) is the second of these. Ramona’s classmates, her sister, and her sister’s friends are often annoyed by Ramona’s pranks and high spirits, as she manages to ruin library books, pull hair, and disrupt class–both her own class and Beezus’s classes. The third book in the series focuses on Ramona’s feelings of fear and insecurity as she prepares for the first grade, confronting bullies and the darkness of her own room.
This allows Ramona’s shift in the next few books, all of which garnered awards. Ramona and Her Father (1977) received a Newbery Honor, Ramona and Her Mother (1979) received a National Book Award, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8, (1981) received also received a Newbery Honor. In the first of these three, Ramona deals with the knowledge that her family needs more money, coming up with ideas to earn extra money and help her father start smoking; in the second, Ramona becomes keenly aware of the ways in which her sister is growing up, jealous of the things her mother and sister share that she cannot; and in the final of these three, Ramona attends the third grade, makes new friends, and begins managing new things on her own.
In the final two books, Ramona Forever (1981) and Ramona’s World (1999), Ramona’s mother becomes pregnant and has baby Roberta, the third sister in the Quimby family. Beezus is in high school, and Ramona is and has been growing up. She has, in many ways, learned how to do that—or at least she has come to peace with it in different ways than before, allowing the entrance of little sister Roberta to start her thinking about her relationship with Beezus and how the two are changing.
In short, Ramona is easy to relate to. We know what it is to have siblings (many of us, anyway); we know what it is to need to stand up to playground bullies but to be so very mischievous as to need to pull someone’s hair; we know what it is to love and be confused by our family. We believe in Ramona, and we believe that we are her. And so, we still love to read her.