Beverly Cleary, the children’s book author known best for her Ramona series, turns 100 today. So I thought I’d share a quote from her about reading. (Spoiler: authors are big believers in the importance and beauty of reading.)
Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school.
Yes, the woman behind Beezus and Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse believes in having kids read for fun. I agree, Ms. Cleary! (But I don’t think that good teachers “make” their students read in school; reading can be taught as something that is regular, normal, and satisfying.)
When I was in grade school, Beverly Cleary probably had the best name recognition among the kids in my class. (Worry not, Judy Blume—you were right up there, too!)
Sure, Cleary probably had great marketers at her publisher (a benefit that authors reap when their books begin to sell really well). But it’s the accessible writing and sense of humor in her stories—she’s writing for third- and fourth-graders, after all—that surely influenced her popularity.
How popular is Cleary? She has sold 85 million copies of her books.
If elementary school librarians across the country were anything like mine (yes, Mrs. Conboy, I still remember you), then American kids got to explore the worlds that Cleary created.
So if Cleary turns 100 today, then when did she start writing?
Cleary wrote Beezus and Ramona in 1955. 1955! That was well before my childhood, but I can only imagine the positive effect that it had for young girls to be able to read about a girl protagonist at a time when writing was still a male-dominated field.
Happy 100th Birthday, Ms. Cleary! And thank you for doing your part to get children excited about reading.