For children who grew up almost a generation ago, Cleary's books are highly relatable. They know the feeling of spending an entire day playing out in the fields or having a lot of fun, unlike the children of today.
Beverly Cleary, the beloved author of children's books turned 103 on April 12 this year. She is one of the most successful authors in the world, and she's sold more than 91 million books in 14 languages across 20 countries. Even though it seems hard to believe, some of Beverly's characters from her books are almost 50-years-old. Cleary is the recipient of the National Book Award (for 1979's Ramona and Her Mother, the fifth in the series) and the Newbery Medal for 1983's Dear Mr. Henshaw). In honor of Cleary, April 12 is also celebrated as the National D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read) Day. This is in reference to one of her most popular characters, Ramona Quimby.
The National D.E.A.R Day, like the name suggests, is aimed at bringing families together to spend more time reading. When she turned 100 in 2016, during her interview with Today, Cleary revealed the secret of her long life, saying, "Well, I didn't do it on purpose!" Cleary also spoke about how she thought she would never be alive long enough to see her cross the 100-year mark, let alone celebrate her 103rd birthday.
Cleary said, "I remember a very earnest conversation my best friend and I had when we were, I guess, freshmen in high school, about how long we wanted to live," the author recalled. "And we decided that 80 was the cut-off date." But, she claims she's not proud of turning 103, but of the fact that her work has managed to delight a lot of kids over 5 decades. She's proudest, simply of "the fact that children love my books."
Back when she turned 100, Cleary reflected on her own childhood in an interview with The Washington Post, noting that she "thought like Ramona, but I was a very well-behaved little girl.” She also added that she thinks "children today have a tough time because they don’t have the freedom to run around as I did–and they have so many scheduled activities.” It does make a lot of sense as kids these days have their lives planned out ahead of them and they're so pampered and spoilt, that they don't know how it feels to actually go out and experience playing with their pals in an open field.
For someone who is such a talented writer, Cleary did not read her first book till she was in the second grade. She grew up in rural Oregon and found children's books at that time uninteresting. "Books in those days, back in the 1920s, had been published in England, and the children had nannies and pony carts and they seemed like a bunch of sissies to me," she said during the interview.
For children who grew up almost a generation ago, Cleary's books are highly relatable. They know the feeling of spending an entire day playing out in the fields or having a lot of fun, unlike the children of today. Cleary is an inspiration to many writers of today's era. "Beverly... you were my inspiration when I started to write all those years ago," said legendary writer Judy Blume, author of "Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret?" and many other young-adult novels. "You remain my inspiration today."
Newbery Medal-winning children's author Kate DiCamillo agreed. "[Cleary's] books are so wonderful when you're a kid ... and when you're 51 years old, they still matter to you," she said. "I write books for kids... I wanna write like Beverly Cleary." Clearly has written more 40 books and has countless fans who love her and her work. She's got so much to look past, but for as what the future holds for her, she replied, "At my age? Well, I'll leave that up to you."
Tracy Dunn wished her: Happy Birthday, Beverly- to the woman who provided hours of fun and laughter as a girl and smiles and heartfelt memories always! Celebrate YOU! Eat Cake! Veronica Jenkins said: Happy birthday and thank you for making part of my childhood great! Good times! Erin Inscho said: My favorite author as a child! Helped make me a better reader too! Thank you Beverly Cleary! Happy Birthday! Liz Rogers said Happy Birthday!!! Thank you sooo much for bringing me so much joy through your books! Ramona and Beezus forever.