I thought of several things to write about today, but all that was thrown right out of the window when I heard on the evening news tonight that a Living Legend, author Beverly Cleary, has died. She was 104 years old- just weeks away from 105. Her first book was published just two years before I was born… I grew up reading her books. I enjoyed reading her memoirs as an adult. I even lived in Portland for 10 years near the neighborhood she wrote about. I have read her books aloud to my own kids and in classrooms. I enjoyed reading her spirited comments in interviews… one of the best when she was asked her secret to living so long on her hundredth birthday, and she responded, “I didn’t do it on purpose.”
She was a reluctant reader who struggled with learning to read after suffering several illnesses during her first year in school. She was mostly bored with children’s books that were available to her, but her love of reading soared when she found a series of books she truly enjoyed. She became a librarian, and her writing career started after a boy’s question, “Where are the books about kids like us?” prompted her to write some.
Beverly Cleary wrote more than 30 books. Her characters- Henry, Ramona and Beezus, Otis and Ellen, Ribsy and Socks, and of course, Ralph the Mouse are well-known and beloved friends of children around the world. They will live on and many more children will become life-long readers because of them.
Goodbye to the Girl from Yamhill. We will always remember you!