Beverly Cleary was the most beloved children’s author in the United States and all over the world. Her books have been published in 29 different languages, so children everywhere could enjoy her relatable, humorous, and inspiring stories.
She started out as a children’s librarian and after years of struggling to find books her young patrons could identify with and hearing her young patrons ask: “where are all the books about us?” Beverly Cleary decided she would write children’s books with characters that children could relate to. Characters such as Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse have delighted children for generations and hopefully more to come. She believed that “kids deserved books of literary quality” and that is exactly what she set out to do when she wrote her first book in 1950, Henry Huggins. Henry Huggins is about an ordinary boy, living an ordinary life with his friends, family, and his dog Rigsby. Based off of Beverly Cleary’s own life as a child and the neighborhood kids she grew up with, Henry Huggins is a delightful story with humorous adventures that any child can relate to.
As a child, I was enamored with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby books…as was everyone else I knew. She was the first Junie B. Jones! Ramona and her big sister Beezus were first introduced in Henry Huggins in 1950, but by 1955 the two Quimby sisters had their own book and the children were loving it. Then, by 1968 Ramona Quimby debuted in her own book series and Beverly Cleary has been receiving critical acclaim and awards ever since. Another series I enjoyed greatly by Beverly Cleary was The Mouse and the Motorcycle and when it was adapted into a movie…oh boy was I ever excited! I remember watching it over and over again at home and in school. Teachers loved showing this movie in class and they still do!
In her 49 years of writing books, Beverly Cleary has won numerous awards and honors for her books. Awards such as the John Newbery Medal in 1978, ’82, and ’84, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975, the National Medal of Arts in 2003, and the 35+ state-wide awards based on votes from her young readers. And in the year 2000, Beverly Cleary was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. You can also find tribute to her at, formerly named, Fernwood Grammar School, where she attended as a girl, who officially changed the name in 2008 to Beverly Cleary School. There is a sculpture garden at Multnomah County Library that features statues of her beloved book characters and a Resident’s Hall at University of California named after her.
Although her passing on March 25th of this year was heartbreaking, Beverly Cleary lived a long and plentiful life. She filled the lives of so many children with books about them! She made reading exciting and touched so many. Her stories will live on for generations to come.