“One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since.” – Beverly Cleary
A reader, yes, but more importantly a writer. Cleary authored more than 30 books about children and children worldwide embraced them. So far nearly 100 million copies of her works have been sold, and they’re still going strong, as is Cleary, who turned 99 on April 12th -- a day appropriately called "Drop Everything and Read Day."
Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Ralph S. Mouse, Beezus and Ramona – these are names embedded in our Kids’ Lit Lexicon – all “real” and “identifiable” characters that Cleary created and generations – both kids and adults – have enjoyed. Among her many awards are the Newberry Medal, the National Book Award. The National Medal of Arts, the “Living Legend” Award from the Library of Congress, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the Association of Children’s Librarians.
Working as a children’s librarian first made Cleary aware that she wanted to write books for children, but she was unsure if she could “do it right.” As she struggled with how to do that, she said she remembered what her mother always told her: Kids like wit and charm as much as adults and that is what will spark their interest in reading. She also knew that kids are sometimes confused or frightened by the world around them, and that they feel deeply about things that adults can easily dismiss.
Combining those things into her writing led to a lasting legacy that all kids know, understand and love, and for which we all can be grateful.
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