I have an Outlander post that I have been holding onto since Saturday from the debut of season two and the release of the novella, “Virgins,” which is a prequel to Outlander. However, I am pushing that to the back-burner because today beloved author Beverly Cleary turned 100 years old! Cleary is most well known for her Ramona series which was first published back in 1955 and was most recently published in 1999. I feel like it’s a safe assumption to say that there aren’t many kids or adults out there that haven’t read at least one of Cleary’s books.
I have always been an avid reader from the time my Pappy taught me how to read and Beverly Cleary’s works are some of the first I was exposed to. Ramona the Pest was life and explained to a tee how I felt about my brother (I was Beezus, obviously). Beezus and Ramona was another example of living with a sibling that hit home for me. And now as an adult I realize how important Ramona and Beezus are to kids of all ages and generations.
I took a Children’s Lit class n college one summer where the reading list had a book from each age group. Ramona, Age 8 was on the list for the K-1st grade grouping. It was important enough to be included in the college syllabus for children’s literature. Now that I am an aunt I feel like Ramona is someone my almost 5 year old niece would love. Spunky, wild, with a huge imagination that never stops – that is exactly Chloe. And in 1981 Cleary won the National Book Award for Ramona and Her Mother because someone else out there thought the series was important as well.
Beverly Cleary has also won the Newbery Medal in 1984 for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw about a boy whose parents divorce and he must move to a new town and make new friends. Cleary was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975 by the American Library Association. Sometimes I forget how many books Cleary wrote until I see the long list that includes The Mouse and the Motorcycle, the Henry Huggins series, Runaway Ralph, Socks, Leave It To Beaver (yes the TV show), and Muggie Maggie. Cleary obviously has a lot to be proud of in her 100 years of life, but if it were me I would be most excited about being named the Library of Congress’s Living Legend in 2000. What an honor!
Currently Beverly Cleary’s books have been published in twenty different languages and her publisher, HarperCollins, recognizes her birthday (today), April 12 as Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) day. I don’t know about you guys, but I would love to drop everything and read all day every day, especially anything by Ms. Cleary. Happy Birthday to you Beverly Cleary and thank you for all the joyous wonders you bring us with your books!