One of the most popular and well-respected figures in children’s literature will be celebrating a very special milestone. On April 12th, Beverly Cleary will turn 100! In her 100 years, this daughter of a farmer and a schoolteacher has come a long way from the small town of Yamhill, Oregon. She has created iconic characters who have stood the test of time, including Henry Huggins, Mr. Ribsy, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, Leigh Botts, Ellen Tebbits, and Ralph S. Mouse. Their stories still line library bookshelves far and wide, delicately teaching young readers how to love, laugh, imagine, forgive, and be brave. Though, the most important thing that these characters taught, and the most important thing that Beverly Cleary has taught millions of children is the most obvious: HOW TO READ! It would be an impossible task to count up the number of readers who have become readers because of Beverly Cleary’s words.
For her talent and many literary contributions, Beverly Cleary has been awarded numerous honors, including the 1981 National Book Award (Ramona and Her Mother), the 1984 Newbery Medal (Dear Mr. Henshaw), the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the National Medal of Arts. She’s influenced many of our other favorite authors, like Judy Blume, who recently called Cleary her “writing inspiration.” Her reach is far and expansive, a literary wave that has lifted other writers.
Another reason to love Beverly Cleary: She started as a children’s librarian! Although decades have passed since she made the transition from librarian to author, Cleary has never stopped voicing her support for libraries and librarians. In 2005, while speaking at the University of Washington, where The Beverly Cleary Endowed Professorship in Children and Youth Services was established, she remarked, “Kids deserve books of literary quality, and librarians are so important in encouraging them to read and selecting books that are appropriate.” Librarians, library staffers, and library lovers and advocates everywhere give Beverly Cleary a standing ovation for recognizing this important fact.
To honor this special woman, we invite you to visit the Levittown Public Library’s Children’s Room, where we will be displaying Beverly Cleary’s books in celebration of her centennial year. Whether you’re reliving your childhood or introducing a new generation to these classic books, you can’t go wrong with a Beverly Cleary book. We look forward to seeing you, and we look forward to introducing you and your family to characters who will become lifelong friends.
Happy Birthday, Beverly!