Beverly Cleary is a popular and favorite American children’s author who was born on the 12th of April 1916. She published her first book, “Henry Huggins” in 1950, which revolves around a boy, his friends and a dog. According to Cleary, the book is a reminiscent of the kids whom she grew up with, as well as those who used to listen to her story-telling during library hours. While she wrote her books, she used to put her mother’s advice into them and made her works simple but humorous, creating a wide mass appeal. She also integrated universal human experiences into her writing, which is an advice that was given to her by one of her professors during her college years.
Relatable, moving but frequently hilarious, her stories have captivated readers of all ages for over 6 decades. From “Socks the Cat” to “Ramona Quimby”, the tales and characters in her books are still going strong all these years later. Does it sound fascinating? Here are more interesting facts about Beverly Cleary.
1. She Had a Significant Role In Improving The “Leave It To Beaver” Sitcom Franchise.
Admittedly, she said that it was boring work. However, Cleary wrote two original tie-in stories starring “The Beav” and Wally, which (according to letters she received) many fans from around the world found much more enjoyable than the film adaptation of the series. When asked about the most possible reason, she said, “I cut out dear old Dad’s philosophizing.”
2. She Was Once a Librarian.
After she graduated from the University of Washington in 1939 with a Library Science degree, Cleary worked in Yakima as a children’s librarian.
3. She Was Always Sympathized With Those Who Struggle With Reading.
At a young age, Cleary almost resented books, as she was put into the lowest reading circle during her first grade. She found it dragging and flat-out excruciating to be presented with phonic lists and force-fed with Dick & Jane-style narratives. In her autobiography, she emotionally said, “[We] wanted action. We wanted a story.” Cleary never forgot this experience, so then she has always kept children who might be having a similar challenge in mind while writing her books.
4. Her Fictional Characters Have Statues At The Grant Park In Portland Oregon.
Many of the best-known stories written by Cleary were partially set in the Grant Park, which is just near the place where she grew up. And as a gesture of love, the city unveiled statues of Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby and Ribsy the Dog there in 1995, particularly in a place called the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden.
5. There Is An Elementary School That Was Named In Her Honor.
The Beverly Cleary Elementary is a K-8 school in Oregon that offers excellent education in a caring environment. With this in mind, its athletic teams should have been named as “The Motorcycle Mice”, instead of “The Cougars”, which is rather disappointing.
6. She Would Write And Bake At The Same Time.
While other authors play their favorite tunes when writing, Cleary had a different approach—baking. She said, “I used to bake bread while I wrote. I’d mix the dough up and sit down and start to write.After a while, the dough would rise and I’d punch it down and write some more. When the dough rose the second time, I’d put it in the oven and have the yeasty smell of bread as I typed.”
7. Her Birthday Is Recognized By Harper Collins Publishing As The Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day.
According to its official website, this day encourages parents and their children to drop everything—paperwork, errands, chores, etc.—and read books, with the assertion that reading, whether on your own or with your children, is so much more enjoyable and rewarding than just about anything else. So, it tells folks of all ages to stop what they are doing and, instead, pick up a book.
8. She Eloped With The Man She Loved Despite Her Parents’ Objections.
Her then future husband, Clarence Cleary, was a kind-hearted history and economics student she met during her college days. He was Roman Catholic, which did not sit well with Beverly Atlee Bunn’s Presbyterian parents. Unshaken, Beverly eloped with him and became Beverly Cleary in 1940. The couple would remain together until Clarence died in 2004.
9. She Has a Very Wise Mantra In Writing.
When Cleary was still a little girl, her mother, who was a teacher, gave her a piece of advice saying, “The best writing is simple writing. And try to write something funny. People enjoy reading anything that makes them laugh.” Another advice that she has not forget is from a college professor who was often saying, “The proper subject of the novel is the universal human experience.”
10. She Was Declared a Living Legend By The Library Of Congress.
This honor is exclusively given to writers, artists, filmmakers, activists, entertainers, physicians, public servants and sports figures, who have made significant contributions to the diverse cultural, social and scientific heritage of America. As for Cleary, she received hers in 2000, allowing her to join the ranks of Muhammad Ali, Maurice Sendak and Madeleine Albright.
11. Interested In Her Thoughts About Why Children Love Ramona Quimby So Much?
“Because [Ramona] does not learn to be a better girl. I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona… and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.”
12. She Is a Cat Lover.
Over the years, Cleary has owned several pet cats, and one of them resented having to compete with Cleary’s typewriter for attention.
With all the interesting things in the life of Beverly Cleary, it is no wonder her life is also very fascinating!