“She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next.”
Beverly Cleary, author of the beloved Ramona Quimby series, turned 103 today. The eternally young-at-heart writer is best known for her insight into youth and childhood, and for the nostalgia and wonder she has inspired in readers young and old.
“Quite often somebody will say, ‘What year do your books take place?’ and the only answer I can give is, in childhood,” Cleary said in an interview.
In addition to Ramona, Cleary is also the creator of beloved characters like Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits and Ramona’s older sister Beatrice, known to Ramona and fans as “Beezus.” Cleary is also the author of Leave it to Beaver, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Dear Mr. Henshaw.
Cleary’s birthday, April 12, was selected as National D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read) in honor of her accomplishments as a children’s author. Cleary was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2005 and has been listed as an influence by popular children’s authors including Laurie Halse Anderson and Judy Bloom.
Cleary was also a children’s librarian, and was passionate about developing children’s love for reading and writing both.
“Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school,” she famously said.
She felt similarly about writing, encouraging children, “if you don’t see the book you want to see on the shelf, write it.”
Cleary lives in Caramel Valley, California.