Just about everyone alive today at some point in their childhood became fans of author Beverly Cleary‘s books. She began writing in 1950 with her first book about rough and tumble third grader Henry Huggins. Beverly later added the classic characters of his neighbors Beezus and Ramona Quimby to her series about the trials and tribulations of elementary school children, for that exact audience. Beverly passed away at the ripe old age of 104 in Carmel, CA — where she’d lived since the 1960’s — on Mar. 25, 2021. We’ve got five things to know about the beloved children’s author.
Beverly studied to become a librarian
Beverly’s mom encouraged her daughter and others to read by setting up a small library in their tiny town of Yamhill, OR when Bevelry was just a child. She went on to graduate from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington with a master’s degree in library science in 1939. She then took a job as a children’s librarian in Yakima, WA, which is what led her to becoming a children’s author.
Beverly wrote books about children for children
After being asked by her young library patrons about why there were no books about school kids like themselves for them to read, Beverly wrote her first children’s book Henry Huggins in 1950. It chronicled a third grader and his dog Ribsy, and led to her follow up Henry and Beezus in 1952 about Henry’s neighbor Beatrice. In 1955 she published Beezus and Ramona, focusing on the Quimby sisters, and their subsequent series became essential reading for any young girl. Her publisher Harper Collins noted that Beverly got her ideas for her stories, “From my own experience and from the world around me.”
Beverly books are beloved by kids around the world
Her over 40 children’s books have sold more than 85 million copies and have been translated into twenty-nine different languages, according to her publisher Harper Collins.
Beverly received many honors for her work
Beverly was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2000. She was later awarded the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her book Dear Mr. Henshaw won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1984, which is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children. Beverly was the recipient of 1981’s National Book Award in the category of children’s fiction (paperback) for Ramona and Her Mother.
Beverly had a loving family
She met husband Clarence Cleary while studying at the University of California, Berkeley in 1938. The pair married in 1940. They moved to Carmel, CA in the early 1960’s and lived there for the rest of their days. The couple had two children, Malcolm and Marianne. Clarence passed in 2004 at the age of 94. Beverly is survived by her children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.