Beverly Cleary Turns 100 Years Old!

Posted on April 2, 2016 at 8:00 am

Author Beverly Cleary turns 100 years old on April 12, 2016!

She did not intend to write children’s books. She was a librarian who wanted to write novels for adults. But then a boy in the library asked her “Where are the books about kids like us?” And so that is what she wrote. Children have been finding themselves and their families in her books since Henry Huggins in 1950. Two of Henry’s neighbors were the sisters Beezus and Ramona, who became the central characters in one of her most popular series.

She is beloved by generations around the world and has won every possible honor including the Newbery for Dear Mr. Henshaw, with illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky. In 1975, Cleary won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association for “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature,” in April 2000 she was named Library of Congress Living Legend in the Writers and Artists category for her contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States, in 2003 she received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2008 the elementary school she attended was renamed in her honor.

Each year on her birthday we celebrate DEAR — Drop everything and read! And you can’t do better than to start with a Beverly Cleary book. I recommend Ramona Quimby, Age 8, but all of them are wonderful. Oh, and if you are an adult who loved her books as a child, you will enjoy her memoir of her own childhood in Portland, Oregon, A Girl from Yamhill and the sequel, My Own Two Feet.

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