5 Beverly Cleary Books for Kids
You are not going to BELIEVE what I found out last week about Beverly Cleary? That’s right, TODAY is her 100th birthday! Oh my gosh, I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself. April 12, 2016 one of my favorite authors is 100 years old. What a gift she gave the world. She is a big part of my growing up and I love her stories so much.
In Cleary’s books, Ramona’s teacher tells the class to Drop Everything and Read! On Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday, we are calling for just that, so stop what you’re doing and get to reading my friends. It’s good for your mind and soul.
In elementary school, I had several teachers that read Cleary’s books to me in class. I remember sitting in a circle on a rug on the floor in Mrs. Nelson’s third grade classroom while she read to us every day. It was pure heaven. She read us several Beverly Cleary classics. I loved the characters in these books so much!
The first book she read to us was “Ramona the Pest”. Ramona was an ornery girl who got herself in trouble quite a lot. I could relate. In a recent interview I watched with Cleary, she said Ramona never meant to be naughty, she just didn’t understand things sometimes and she was learning. I love that, because I know as a child, I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have for lack of understanding the consequences. Cleary wrote many books about Ramona and her friends and family. She based them on things that she experienced in her life.
Another of Cleary’s beloved books we read in school was “Ramona and Beezus”. Beezus was what Ramona called her sister and I loved the relationship they had as I was an annoying little sister just like Ramona. I could relate to her character. She was misunderstood. She was seen as a bother a lot of the time. I love Beverly Cleary’s ability to make you feel like Ramona felt and how she made her character so relatable.
Mrs. Nelson left many indelible marks on my heart and mind. Choosing what to read to our class so deftly was one of her many many gifts. Mrs. Nelson, I hope you know I still don’t like wadding paper and throwing it in the trash because you were right! More paper fits in the trash bin when you lay it flat. I don’t get the whole, can I go to the bathroom? I don’t know, can you? Thing though. I know it’s proper grammar you were after, but I still just needed to potty.
“Henry Huggins” was a Cleary book I read later. It was actually her first. Published nearly 60 years ago. It was about a boy who was always bored and thought nothing exciting could ever happen to him. He found a stray dog and rescued it by hiding it from the bus driver in a bag. I could feel the tension Henry felt as he worried he would get caught with the dog by the bus driver. I also felt his heart for the dog and how he helped save the dog who was obviously alone and starving.
Another great series from Cleary that Mrs. Nelson read to the class was Ralph the Mouse. Ralph was a little mouse who lived in a hotel with his very annoying (so he thought) family. His parents were way too overprotective, and Ralph longed for adventure. A boy came to the hotel with his family and gave Ralph a little motorcycle and boy did he have a time. In the book, “The Mouse and the Motorcycle”, Cleary tells about how Ralph acquired the motorcycle and his adventures at the hotel. The sequel, “Runaway Mouse” tells how Ralph longed for adventure and took to the open road on the motorcycle and then what happened when he really got out into the world.
Mrs. Nelson had us write a letter to our favorite author. Of course I chose Cleary and my little girl heart exploded when she actually wrote me back. Here is this amazing famous author and she took the time to write back to a pesky annoying kid like me? I could not even believe it. I wrote her about how I loved her writing and how she inspired me to want to be an author when I grew up. I had many teachers encourage me to write in my younger years. I had a gift.
I lost my dream of writing over the years when it was belittled and tossed aside as a gift, but now in my 40’s, I have finally picked it back up again and man am I ever having fun! I wish I had never stopped. I love the way writing makes me feel and there is so much inside of me that is pouring out now. I hope it can impact people in a positive way as Cleary’s has. I would LOVE to write children’s books for preschool age. It’s a dream I will be pursuing.
Anyway, back to my letter from Beverly Cleary. It was a short, hand written note that simply said, thank you for reading my books, follow your dream. I knew from that day on that writing was going to be my gig! It has a purpose. Even in a few words scratched on a flyer for fans in the 70’s, she found a way to impact me forever. I will never forget.
Last week when I found out it was her birthday, I got her a birthday card and looked up where to send fan mail and wrote her a birthday note. She is such a special lady. I hope she enjoys a ton of birthday mail and I hope she celebrates in a big way. Her life is simple and quiet now as you can imagine at the age of 100. She is blessed to be healthy and I’m so very glad for her. I wish her many more healthy, happy birthdays. (and I hope she writes me back)
I love books and reading and I love sharing that with my kids. I hope to instill a life long love of learning in each and every one of them.
Here is an interview about her birthday. I hope you enjoy it. I love how she said about turning 100, I didn’t do it on purpose. Still witty and silly, as she always was in her writing. She inspired so many people with her writing and her way of being. Many other legendary authors were spurred on by her work. I hope someone can say that about me someday.
Cleary’s books were written for children ages 8-12 and are beloved by millions of readers. Be sure to check out any of Cleary’s works. I’m going to order her biography immediately and read it in celebration of her centennial life and her beautiful gift to my life and to this world! She was a school librarian and she said she wrote the books because kids in the library couldn’t find any books about kids like them. I love that, she saw a need and filled it. That’s what more of us should strive to be like!