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Beverly Cleary

American writer of children's books

Top 10 Beverly Cleary related articles

Beverly Cleary
Cleary c. 1955 and her cat, "Kitty"[1]
Beverly Atlee Bunn

(1916-04-12)April 12, 1916
DiedMarch 25, 2021(2021-03-25) (aged 104)
  • Writer
  • librarian
Notable work
Clarence Cleary
(m. 1940; died 2004)

Beverly Atlee Cleary (née Bunn; April 12, 1916 – March 25, 2021) was an American writer of children's and young adult fiction. One of America's most successful authors, 91 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide since her first book was published in 1950.[2] Some of Cleary's best known characters are Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, and Ralph S. Mouse.[3]

The majority of Cleary's books are set in the Grant Park neighborhood of northeast Portland, Oregon, where she was raised, and she has been credited as one of the first authors of children's literature to figure emotional realism in the narratives of her characters, often children in middle-class families.[4][5]

She won the 1981 National Book Award for Ramona and Her Mother[6][a] and the 1984 Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw. For her lifetime contributions to American literature, Cleary received the National Medal of Arts, recognition as a Library of Congress Living Legend, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the Association for Library Service to Children.[7] The Beverly Cleary School, a public school in Portland, was named after her, and several statues of her most famous characters were erected in Grant Park in 1995. She turned 100 in 2016.

Beverly Cleary Intro articles: 11

Early life

Cleary as a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, 1938

Beverly Atlee Bunn was born on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon,[8] to Chester Lloyd Bunn (a farmer) and Mable Atlee Bunn (a schoolteacher).[9] Cleary was an only child[10] and lived on a farm in rural Yamhill, Oregon, in her early childhood.[11] She was raised Presbyterian.[12] When she was six years old, her family moved to Portland, Oregon,[9] where her father had secured a job as a bank security officer.[8]

The adjustment from living in the country to the city was troubling for Cleary, and she struggled in school; in first grade, her teacher placed her in a group for struggling readers.[9][13] Cleary said, "The first grade was sorted into three reading groups—Bluebirds, Redbirds and Blackbirds. I was a Blackbird. To be a Blackbird was to be disgraced. I wanted to read, but somehow could not."[14] With the help of a school librarian who introduced her to books she enjoyed,[15] Cleary caught up by third grade[10] and started to spend a lot of time reading and at the library.[9] However, she eventually found reading boring, complaining that many stories were simple and unsurprising, and wondering why authors often did not write with humor or about ordinary people.[14] By sixth grade, a teacher suggested that Cleary should become a children's writer based on essays she had written for class assignments.[13] Cleary graduated from Grant High School in Portland.[16]

After high school, Cleary entered Chaffey College in Ontario, California,[9] with aspirations of becoming a children's librarian. After two years at Chaffey, she was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1938.[14] She also met her future husband, Clarence Cleary, during her time at Berkeley.[17] While in college, Cleary worked odd jobs to pay her tuition, including working as a seamstress and a chambermaid.[18] In 1939, she graduated from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington with a master's degree in library science[19] and accepted a year-long position as a children's librarian in Yakima, Washington. Her parents disapproved of her relationship with Cleary, a Roman Catholic, so the couple eloped and were married in 1940.[17][20] After World War II, they settled in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.[20][21]

Beverly Cleary Early life articles: 15


After her graduation from the University of Washington in 1939, she served as a children's librarian in Yakima, Washington until 1940, and then as the post librarian at the U.S. Army Hospital in Oakland, California from 1942 to 1945.[22] She was later a full-time writer for children.[22]

As a children's librarian, Cleary empathized with her young patrons, who had difficulty finding books with characters they could identify with,[11] and she struggled to find enough books to suggest that would appeal to them.[10] After a few years of making recommendations and performing live storytelling in her role as librarian, Cleary decided to start writing children's books about characters that young readers could relate to.[23] Cleary has said, "I believe in that 'missionary spirit' among children's librarians. Kids deserve books of literary quality, and librarians are so important in encouraging them to read and selecting books that are appropriate."[15][19]

Cleary's first book, Henry Huggins (1950), was accepted for immediate publication and was the first in a series of fictional chapter books about Henry, his dog Ribsy, his neighborhood friend Beezus and her little sister Ramona.[13] The book was a collection of stories she had composed to tell children during the library's Saturday afternoon story hours.[14] Like many of her later works, Henry Huggins is a novel about people living ordinary lives and is based on Cleary's own childhood experiences, the kids in her neighborhood growing up, as well as children she met while working as a librarian.[11][15]

Cleary's first book to center a story on the Quimby sisters, Beezus and Ramona, was published in 1955.[24] A publisher asked her to write a book about a kindergarten student. Cleary resisted, because she had not attended kindergarten, but later changed her mind after the birth of her twins.[25]

Cleary also wrote two memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill (1988) and My Own Two Feet (1995).[26] During a 2011 interview for the Los Angeles Times, at age 95, Cleary stated, "I've had an exceptionally happy career."[13]

Beverly Cleary Career articles: 5

Critical significance

Cleary's books have been historically noted for their attention to the daily minutiae of childhood, specifically the experience of children growing up in middle-class families.[5] Leonard S. Marcus, a children's literature historian, said of Cleary's work: "When you're the right age to read Cleary's books you're likely at your most impressionable time in life as a reader. [Her books] both entertain children and give them courage and insight into what to expect from their lives."[10] Cleary's employment of humor has also been noted by critics; Roger Sutton of The Horn Book Magazine notes: "Cleary is funny in a very sophisticated way. She gets very close to satire, which I think is why adults like her, but she's still deeply respectful of her characters—nobody gets a laugh at the expense of another. I think kids appreciate that they're on a level playing field with adults."[10]

Pat Pflieger, professor of children's literature at West Chester University, commented: "Cleary's books have lasted because she understands her audience. She knows they're sometimes confused or frightened by the world around them, and that they feel deeply about things that adults can dismiss."[27] Eliza Dresang, professor in children and youth services at the University of Washington Information School said, "Those books don't seem so radical now, but they were when she was writing them." Dresang also said the topics covered were portrayed with honesty and accuracy.[28] Twentieth-Century Children's Writers said, "Beverly Cleary's impact as a children's writer cannot be overestimated... her extraordinary talent in creating memorable young characters whose exuberant spirit and zest for life attract young and old readers alike."[29]:210

Beverly Cleary Critical significance articles: 5

Later life

In 1955, Cleary gave birth to twins, Malcolm and Marianne.[28] Cleary had lived in Carmel Valley Village, California, since before her husband's death in 2004; as of 2016, she lived in a retirement home there.[30][31]

Cleary celebrated her 100th birthday on April 12, 2016,[32] an event that was noted in several news sources.[18][33][34][35] Cleary's birthday is now celebrated nationwide as D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day, with activities related to the Drop Everything and Read program.[36]

On March 25, 2021, Cleary died in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, at the age of 104.[37][38]

Beverly Cleary Later life articles: 2

Honors and legacy

Statue of Ramona Quimby in Grant Park, Portland

In 1975, Cleary won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association for "substantial and lasting contributions to children's literature".[39] She was U.S. nominee for the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1984.[40] In April 2000 she was named Library of Congress Living Legend in the writers and artists category for her contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States.[41] She received the National Medal of Arts in 2003.[42]

Cleary's books have been published in over 25 different languages and have been recognized by many awards and honors. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal in 1984, and Newbery Honors were conferred on Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982. She won the 1981 National Book Award in category children's fiction (paperback) for Ramona and Her Mother, a William Allen White Children's Book award for Socks (1973), the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal (1980), and the Children's Book Council's Every Child Award (1985).[9]

In 2012, Ramona the Pest was ranked number 24 among all children's novels in a survey published by the School Library Journal, a monthly with a primarily U.S. audience. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (89) and Ramona and Her Father (94) were also among the top 100.[43]

Publisher HarperCollins recognizes her birthday, April 12, as National Drop Everything and Read Day (DEAR), in promotion of sustained silent reading.[44]

In Portland, Oregon, the Hollywood branch of the Multnomah County Library, near where she lived as a child, commissioned a map of Henry Huggins's Klickitat Street neighborhood for its lobby wall.[45] Statues of her characters Henry Huggins, the Hugginses' dog Ribsy, and Ramona Quimby can be found in The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children, which is part of Portland's Grant Park in the Hollywood-Fernwood neighborhood.[45]

In 1997, Central Library in downtown Portland, Oregon, which serves as the main branch of the Multnomah County Library system, dedicated its children's room as the Beverly Cleary Children's Library.[46]

In June 2008, the neighborhood's K-8 school, formerly named Fernwood Grammar School and once attended by Cleary, was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School.[47]

In 2004, the University of Washington Information School completed fund-raising for the Beverly Cleary Endowed Chair for Children and Youth Services to honor her work and commitment to librarianship.[19] In 2008, the school announced that she had been selected as the next recipient of the university's Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award, the highest honor the University of Washington can bestow on a graduate.[48][49]

Cleary has a 220-student residential hall at her alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, named after her, called Beverly Cleary Hall.[50]

Cleary has been mentioned as a major influence by other authors, including Laurie Halse Anderson, Judy Blume, Lauren Myracle, and Jon Scieszka.[51]

In April 2016, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, Oregon Public Broadcasting produced an original half-hour program, Discovering Beverly Cleary, which included an extensive interview with Cleary at age 99 at her home in Carmel, California, and photographs and stories from her life.[52] It was broadcast in Spring 2016 on PBS stations across the country.[53]

Beverly Cleary Honors and legacy articles: 19


Key: † Henry Huggins series (1950–1964), ‡ Ramona series (1955–1999)[54]

Beverly Cleary Works articles: 20



  1. ^ Cleary won the 1981 National Book Award for paperback children's fiction. From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual awards for hardcover and paperback books in many categories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including Ramona and Her Mother (1979).


  1. ^ "100 things you might not know about Beverly Cleary to celebrate her 103rd birthday". cbc.ca. Books: CBC/Radio-Canada. April 12, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  2. ^ Springen, Karen (April 2, 2006), Beverly Cleary, Age 90, Newsweek, retrieved April 3, 2016
  3. ^ Discover Author Beverly Cleary, Harper Collins, archived from the original on October 7, 2017, retrieved April 3, 2016
  4. ^ Larson, Sarah (April 11, 2016). "Beverly Cleary, Age 100". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Schwarz, Benjamin (July 2011). "My Ramona: How Beverly Cleary Captured Childhood". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  6. ^ National Book Awards – 1981, National Book Foundation, 1981, retrieved April 4, 2016
  7. ^ "Beverly Cleary", The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Columbia University Press, 2013, retrieved April 4, 2016
  8. ^ a b "Beverly Cleary". Biography.com. The Biography Channel. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae "Beverly Cleary Bibliography". Scholastic. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e Paul, Pamela (April 8, 2011). "The Ageless Appeal of Beverly Cleary". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Gibbs, Hope Katz (April 2010). "Bevery Cleary's World: Author Spotlight (reprinted from April 2010)". The Costco Connection. p. 37. Archived from the original on January 11, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  12. ^ "The writing roots of a Yamhill girl: Essay on Beverly Cleary". The Oregonian. June 9, 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d Ulin, David L (April 17, 2011), "Beverly Cleary's 'exceptionally happy career'", Los Angeles Times, retrieved April 3, 2016
  14. ^ a b c d Shepherd-Hayes, Deborah (1996). A Guide for Using The Mouse and the Motorcycle in the Classroom. Teacher Created Resources. ISBN 978-1-557-34529-5.
  15. ^ a b c Hewitt, Scott (April 2, 2016), As her 100th birthday nears, Cleary the subject of a new documentary, Columbian Arts, retrieved April 3, 2016
  16. ^ Brown, Rachael (June 6, 2011). "A Beverly Cleary Pilgrimage, From Yamhill to Klickitat Street". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Harmanci, Reyhan (Summer 2010), "Extraordinarily Ordinary: Beverly Cleary Still Making Magic for Young Readers", California Magazine, retrieved April 3, 2016
  18. ^ a b Chung, Nicole (April 12, 2016). "7 things you didn't know about Beverly Cleary". PBS Newshour.
  19. ^ a b c Goldsmith, Steven (February 10, 2005), "Endowed seat in children's librarianship named for author Beverly Cleary", UW Today, retrieved April 3, 2016
  20. ^ a b "Cleary, Beverly Bio". www.edupaperback.org. Educational Book and Media Association.
  21. ^ Bowman, John S. (1995), "Beverly Cleary", The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, Cambridge University Press, retrieved April 4, 2016
  22. ^ a b "Beverly Clear, Author". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  23. ^ Warren, Mary (February 13, 2016), "Beloved Books, Timeless characters", Toronto Star, pp. E1–E2, retrieved April 3, 2016
  24. ^ Sollosi, Mary (April 12, 2016), "Ramona Quimby's greatest mishaps, in honor of Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday", Entertainment Weekly
  25. ^ a b Cleary, Beverly. "An Interview with Beverly Cleary" (PDF). Beverly Cleary Official Site (Interview). Interviewed by HarperCollins. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  26. ^ Mead, Wendy (April 12, 2016), "Happy 100th, Beverly Cleary! Celebrating the Kid's Lit Icon", Bio, A&E Television Networks, archived from the original on September 2, 2018, retrieved April 13, 2016
  27. ^ "Beverly Cleary, Age 90". Newsweek. April 2, 2006. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  28. ^ a b "September 2008 Columns Magazine Feature: Beverly Cleary: Kids Like Us". www.washington.edu. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  29. ^ Chevalier, Tracy (editor), Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. James Press, 1989;
  30. ^ Gumbrecht, Jamie; Hetter, Katia (April 11, 2016). "Happy 100th birthday, Beverly Cleary!". CNN. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  31. ^ "Clarence T. Cleary". The Monterey Herald. June 25, 2004.
  32. ^ Jaeger-Miller, Melissa (April 11, 2016). "Beverly Cleary Is Turning 100, But She Has Always Thought Like A Kid". NPR. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  33. ^ Krug, Nora (April 3, 2016). "Beverly Cleary on turning 100: Kids today 'don't have the freedom' I had". Washington Post.
  34. ^ Maughan, Shannon (April 6, 2016). "Beverly Cleary, on Turning 100". Publishers Weekly.
  35. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (April 9, 2016). "Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary". New York Times.
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "HarperCollins Mourns the Loss of Beloved Children's Book Author Beverly Cleary". HarperCollins. HarperCollins. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  38. ^ Grimes, William (March 26, 2021). "Beverly Cleary, Beloved Children's Book Author, Dies at 104". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  39. ^ "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners" Archived April 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA). Retrieved June 8, 2013.
    "About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" Archived April 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. ALSC. ALA. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  40. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. pp. 110–118. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  41. ^ "Meet Authors & Illustrators: Beverly Cleary". Children's Literature. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013. Material contributed by HarperCollins Publishers.
  42. ^ "President Bush Announces 2003 Medal of Arts Recipients". National Endowment for the Arts (nea.gov). November 12, 2003. Archived from the original on June 14, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013. With linked photos and brief biographies.
  43. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (July 7, 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  44. ^ "Drop Everything And Read". HarperCollins Publishers (dropeverythingandread.com). Archived from the original on February 21, 2019. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
  45. ^ a b "Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden". Multnomah County Library. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  46. ^ "House Concurrent Resolution 30". 81st OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. 2021. Archived from the original on March 26, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2021. Whereas the Multnomah County Library has installed numerous memorials in recognition of Beverly Cleary’s connections to Portland and in honor of her accomplishments and contributions to literature, including naming the Beverly Cleary Children’s Library in the Central Library branch in her honor.
  47. ^ Stern, Hank (June 5, 2008). "Hurray for Ramona and Ribsy! Northeast Portland School to be named for Beverly Cleary". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2008.
  48. ^ "Headlines – Information School | University of Washington". Ischool.washington.edu. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  49. ^ "Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award Winners – Office of Ceremonies". www.washington.edu. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  50. ^ "Living at Cal – Unit 3". Housing.berkeley.edu. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  51. ^ Staino, Rocco (April 11, 2010). "Beverly Cleary Turns 94". School Library Journal. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  52. ^ "Season 17, Episode 11: Discovering Beverly Cleary". OPB TV. Archived from the original on October 10, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  53. ^ Graeber, Laurel (March 31, 2016). "Beverly Cleary, Nearing 100, Is to Be Celebrated at Symphony Space". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  54. ^ "All Beverly Cleary Titles". The World of Beverly Cleary. Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  55. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1950). Henry Huggins. ISBN 978-0-440-43551-8.
  56. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1951). Ellen Tebbits. ISBN 978-0-061-97216-4.
  57. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1952). Henry and Beezus. ISBN 978-0-380-70914-4.
  58. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1953). Otis Spofford. ISBN 978-0-688-21720-4.
  59. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1954). Henry and Ribsy. ISBN 978-0-061-97220-1.
  60. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1955). Beezus and Ramona. ISBN 978-0-688-21076-2.
  61. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1956). Fifteen. ISBN 978-0-140-30948-5.
  62. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1957). Henry and the Paper Route. ISBN 978-0-062-65238-6.
  63. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1958). The Luckiest Girl. ISBN 978-0-688-31741-6.
  64. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1959). Jean and Johnny. ISBN 978-0-440-94358-7.
  65. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1960). The Hullabaloo ABC. ISBN 978-0-688-15182-9.
  66. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1960). The Real Hole. ISBN 978-0-688-05850-0.
  67. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1960). Leave it to Beaver. New York: Berkley. OCLC 9702656.
  68. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1961). Beaver and Wally. ISBN 978-0-884-11248-8.
  69. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1961). Here's Beaver!. OCLC 8479760.
  70. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1962). Henry and the clubhouse. Illustrated by Louis Darling. New York: William Morrow & Co. ISBN 9780380709151. OCLC 171857.
  71. ^ Cleary, Beverly (1963). Sister of the bride. Illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. New York: Morrow. OCLC 29675613.
  72. ^ "Ramona on PBS". TV Guide. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  73. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 6, 2009). "Young actresses cast for "Beezus and Ramona"". Reuters. Retrieved March 26, 2021.

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