Happy 101st birthday, Beverly Cleary! Her books like Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and more, have impacted the childhood of generations of readers. She has been honored for her contributions with the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award. She was also named a Library of Congress Living Legend.
In honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, here are nine reasons to love the author and her books.
Her stories and characters are timeless.
I remember my parents enjoying reading the Ramona series, and I loved sharing them with my daughter. I couldn’t have been more pleased when she opted to theme her eighth birthday party after Ramona Quimby, Age 8, complete with a game like Pin the Tail on the Donkey that involved cracking eggs on a cardboard Ramona’s head.
Her books are full of heart.
I love that in each book there are so many people to root for. You so want them to have a happy ending and I appreciate that while the books often do have a satisfying conclusion, they aren’t too treacly.
Cleary’s books are great for helping kids learn to empathize.
Empathy is huge for kids, and I love anything that helps kids exercise their empathy muscles. Being able to put yourself in another’s shoes, which her books do a great job of doing, is key for developing empathy. Cleary’s books help us understand that there are different sides to different stories. Kids can understand both Ramona’s good intentions, the impact of her actions, where her parents are coming from and more.
Humor is key!
Ramona in particular can be the source of many laughs. I love that the books are lighthearted and so very funny. It makes them fun to read, and kids who have fun reading, read more. They’re also fun to read as parents.
Her books remind us that the everyday activities and simple things matter.
I love that her books are fascinating, but also about everyday life. While fantasy is fun, it’s also great to see how Cleary crafted great reads out of typical experiences. She tapped into a lot of common human experiences that made us all feel like we have been in Ramona’s shoes at some point.
Her characters remind adults that childhood is complex, and not always easy.
Growing up can be difficult. Cleary’s books serve as valuable reminders of how complicated childhood can be, and can help adult readers remember that it can be hard to be a kid.
There are a lot of of strong women in her books.
Ramona was a strong and feisty girl, with an indomitable spirit. She marched to the beat of her own drum and did so with aplomb. Ramona is not the only strong female character in Cleary’s books. There are lots of smart, capable women in her stories.
Adults in her books aren’t perfect.
All the adults in the book generally do their best, but that doesn’t mean they were perfect, particularly Ramona’s parents. Whether it was packing raw eggs in a lunch or not plugging in the Crock-Pot or a host of other mishaps, things don’t always go according to plan. Cleary’s books wonderfully illustrate that love and good intentions matter more than perfection.
Her books made reading cool.
Cleary herself was not an early reader and in the lowest reading group in first grade, the year she tried to drop out of school. She grew to love reading and went on to become a librarian herself, but her sympathy for struggling readers come through loud and clear in her books. She also does a wonderful job of conveying the joy that reading can bring. Remember how Ramona loved D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read)? To honor Cleary’s birthday today, make it a D.E.A.R. day with your kiddos.
Her books send the message that family matters the most, but also helps readers see that those relationships aren’t always easy and require work.
Siblings in the book often are at odds, especially Ramona and Beezus, but deep down inside, they love and support each other. Aunt Bea is there for her nieces. And the parent-child relationships are powerful.
“I couldn’t get along without my Ramona,” says Mrs. Quimby to her daughter who had tried to run away. It’s safe to say that readers of all ages felt the same exact way.
Prior Post: See the new teaser trailer for Thor: Ragnarok
You May Also Like: Easy ways to encourage summer reading
Don’t miss a post! Please subscribe to Between Us Parents’ safe, spam-free email list in the box in the top right corner of the page!