It is probably sacrilegious to mention Ramona, Beezus and Keith Richards in the same sentence, but these are the books that are taking up a bit of my time this week. Keith Richard’s Life is addicting, just like his heroin habit. Can’t put it down, except when my student and I read Beezus and Ramona, the first of a still funny series of books, even after having read them countless times when I taught elementary school. That Ramona. And in a lot of ways she is at some levels an early Keith Richards (whose antics and insights will make you laugh as well as shake your head and make you wonder how he survived). Humor.
Actually, Life is the first “rock and roll” - type book I have ever read. It is a fascinating look at the cultural history of the 60’s through to the 2000’s. The Stones, for a lot of us, was the sound track of our youth. The first time I saw the Stones in ’65... as an impressionable 18 year old, my friends and I drove down to San Jose Civic Auditorium, from Berkeley, to see Mick and Keith and the rest of them blow through and stun our sensibilities. Richards talks a lot of music in his book as well, making me wish I had paid more attention during my “I want to be a folk singer with my cheap-ass guitar phase” around this time. Especially the chords and riff stuff. It is heartening to read how much respect Richards had for other, musicians, including Ry Cooder (a favorite, and Gram Parsons) and how much they taught him.
Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary, takes me way, way back to a kinder, gentler, time in the United States. For kids here, they can readily identify with a Ramona and Beezus of 50+ years ago, as they see themselves in these books. It is very strange to be reading this book with my student. I am home-schooling a 5th grader this year, and we had just finished Sign of the Beaver, and she wanted to read a “fun” book before we go on to tackle Sing Down the Moon, and Number the Stars. Can’t wait to read The Giver again though. One of my former students is teaching in China this year, and commented on how does anyone teach the same lesson 15 times and not go nuts. I had to laugh, because in actuality it is 15 different experiences. But I am sympathetic. I had a student once, Dillon, who came to me in the 4th grade, and begged me not to read anymore dead dog books. I’ve kept that promise. And there are books I do not ever want to teach much less read again, including Lord of the Flies ; after the first two or three times I taught that book, I still can’t stand it! That Beezus and Ramona still strikes the fancy of a 10 year old girl is endearing. Ramona would definitely grow up and be a Stones’ fan, I’m sure.
I am having fun though. I have said before once a teacher, always a teacher, even when you retire. This time though, it is a load of fun. And one to one ratio definitely tilts the odds in my direction...classroom management is a breeze. In the case of our English class, though, we let it rip, and have a blast every week. Maybe they would like a dose of Beezus and Ramona, although Miguel, our musician student, would be more likely to enjoy Keith Richard’s Life, I’m thinking.
We are off to Costa Rica next week, need a vacation from retirement. Is that even possible? Later.