April 12th marks children’s author Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday, and yes, she’s still with us! And what a birthday it will be, with many celebrations nationwide at schools, libraries, public performance spaces and bookstores.
At the Newport Public Library, children and their families will be celebrating with activities Monday through Friday. Look for self-directed activities in the “Juvenile Fiction” area downstairs, behind the reference librarian’s desk. On Tuesday, Ms. Cleary’s 100th birthday, they will have activities in the McEntee room after school starting at 3:45 until 5:00 p.m.
A native of McMinnville, Beverly Cleary attended school in the Portland area. Beverly loved books, thanks in part to her mother bringing home books from the Oregon State Library. Yet, in her early days she struggled to read until an adoring second grade teacher gave her the encouragement she needed. By age eight she became an accomplished reader and was inspired by her teacher and school librarian to try writing.
Cleary’s experiences as a late budding reader helped her empathize with young readers when she became an author. Young readers supplied Cleary with ideas for characters portraying regular kids. The style clicked. In addition to winning many fans, Cleary enjoyed many honors and awards, including being named a “Library of Congress Living Legend”, and receiving the prestigious Newbery Medal. She even had a K-8th grade school in Portland named after her!
Cleary’s Ramona books have lasting appeal for children. Perhaps that is why they have sold in more than 20 countries and 20 different languages. Cleary remarked, “Over the past 50 years the world has changed, especially for kids. But kids’ needs haven’t changed. They still need to feel safe, be close to their families, like their teachers and have friends to play with.”
In one of Cleary’s popular books, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the concept of DEAR (“Drop Everything And Read”), was introduced. In this 1981 book, Ramona and her classmates were given class time to stop what they were doing and read silently to themselves. This delighted Ramona, although she thought that “Sustained Silent Reading” sounded more grown-up than DEAR. If you are interested in the concept of DEAR visit the website www.DropEverythingAndRead.com.
The staff at the Newport Library hopes you will join them at the library to read, celebrate and thank Beverly Cleary for all she has done for the readers, librarians, parents, teachers and citizens of the world!