Today is the 107th birthday of universally-loved award-winning children’s author Beverly Cleary. She launched her career as a children’s book author with 1950’s Henry Huggins. She soon followed up with more realistic and funny tales of growing up, including Beezus and Ramona (1955) and Henry and the Paper Route (1957). Her stories about Ramona Quimby, which included Ramona the Pest (1968) and Ramona and Her Mother (1979) were a particular favorite for many readers. Cleary’s later works include the memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill (1988) and My Own Two Feet (1995), and the children’s novel Ramona’s World (1999). 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 was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Beverly Cleary
DATE OF BIRTH: April 12, 1916
PLACE OF BIRTH: McMinville, OR
DATE OF DEATH: March 25, 2021
PLACE OF DEATH: Carmel, CA
NEWBERY MEDAL 1984 for Dear Mr. Henshaw
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS LIVING LEGEND 2000
NATIONAL MEDAL OF ARTS 2003
BEST KNOWN FOR: Beverly Atlee Cleary is an American writer of children’s and young adult fiction. One of America’s most successful living authors, 91 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide since her first book was published in 1950.
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.
Author of books:
Henry Huggins (1950, juvenile fiction)
Ellen Tebbits (1951, juvenile fiction)
Henry and Beezus (1952, juvenile fiction)
Otis Spofford (1953, juvenile fiction)
Henry and Ribsy (1954, juvenile fiction)
Beezus and Ramona (1955, juvenile fiction)
Fifteen (1956, juvenile fiction)
Henry and the Paper Route (1957, juvenile fiction)
The Luckiest Girl (1958, juvenile fiction)
Jean and Johnny (1959, young adult novel)
Leave It to Beaver (1960, novel)
The Real Hole (1960, picture book)
The Hullabaloo ABC (1960, picture book)
Emily’s Runaway Imagination (1961, juvenile fiction)
Two Dog Biscuits (1961, picture book)
Henry and the Clubhouse (1962, juvenile fiction)
Sister of the Bride (1963, juvenile fiction)
Ribsy (1964, juvenile fiction)
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965, juvenile fiction)
Mitch and Amy (1967, juvenile fiction)
Ramona the Pest (1968, juvenile fiction)
Runaway Ralph (1970, juvenile fiction)
Socks (1973, juvenile fiction)
Ramona the Brave (1975, juvenile fiction)
Ramona and Her Father (1977, juvenile fiction)
Ramona and Her Mother (1979, juvenile fiction)
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981, juvenile fiction)
Ralph S. Mouse (1982, juvenile fiction)
Dear Mr. Henshaw (1983, juvenile fiction)
Ramona Forever (1984, juvenile fiction)
The Ramona Quimby Diary (1984, juvenile fiction)
Lucky Chuck (1984, juvenile fiction)
The Beezus and Ramona Diary (1986, juvenile fiction)
The Growing-Up Feet (1987, picture book)
Janet’s Thingamajigs (1987, picture book)
A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir (1988, non-fiction)
Muggie Maggie (1990, juvenile fiction)
Strider (1991, juvenile fiction)
Petey’s Bedtime Story (1993, picture book)
My Own Two Feet: A Memoir (1995, non-fiction)
Ramona’s World (1999, juvenile fiction)