Today is the 100th birthday of universally-loved award-winning children’s author Beverly Cleary. You will have a difficult time finding anyone who has not read her books as a kid, they were a major part of everyone’s elementary school experience. The world is a better place because she is still in it.
Beverly Cleary (born Beverly Atlee Bunn; April 12, 1916) is an American author. Educated at colleges in California and Washington, she worked as a librarian before writing children’s books. Cleary has written more than 30 books for young adults and children. Some of her best-known characters are Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beatrice (“Beezus”) Quimby, her sister Ramona, and Ralph S. Mouse. She has won many awards, including the 1984 Newbery Medal for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw.
Cleary’s books have been published in 20 different languages and have earned many awards. A few examples of awards she has won include a Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw (1984); a Newbery Honor for Ramona and Her Father (1978 ); a Newbery Honor for Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1982); a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the Association for Library Services to Children of the American Library Association (1975); the Catholic Library Association’s Regina Medal (1980); and the Children’s Book Council’s Every Child Award (1985). Cleary’s books have been read on PBS and ABC-TV. She received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the Writers and Artists category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States. She received the National Medal of Arts in 2003.
Her birthday, April 12, is recognized as National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, in promotion of sustained silent reading.
In Portland, Oregon, the Hollywood branch of the Multnomah County Library, near where she lived as a child, commissioned a map of Henry Huggins’s Klickitat Street neighborhood that resides on its lobby wall. Statues of her beloved characters Henry Huggins; the Huggins’s dog, Ribsy; and Ramona Quimby can be found in Portland’s Grant Park. In June 2008, the two-campus K–8 school of the same neighborhood, Hollyrood-Fernwood, was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School. As a child, Cleary attended the former Fernwood Grammar School, one of the two buildings that makes up the school that now bears her name.
In 2004, the University of Washington Information School completed fund-raising for the Beverly Cleary Endowed Chair for Children and Youth Services to honor her work and commitment to librarianship. In 2008, the school announced that she had been selected as the next recipient of the University’s Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award, the highest honor the University of Washington can bestow on a graduate.
Cleary has a 220-student residential hall at the University of California, Berkeley named after her.
Cleary has been mentioned as a major influence by other authors, including Laurie Halse Anderson, Judy Blume, Lauren Myracle and Jon Scieszka.