Children’s novelist Beverly Cleary has died
by Gaye Clark
Posted 3/26/21, 06:08 pm
Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary died Thursday at her home in Northern California, publisher HarperCollins announced. She was 104. Her stories portrayed carefree childhoods, much like her own in Oregon. As a little girl, Cleary hated to read and was in the lowest reading circle in first grade. That bad experience inspired her to write books her young readers could enjoy. Cleary’s mother, an ex-teacher, told her, “Try to write something funny.”
How did she do it? Cleary worked as a children’s librarian for most of her career. In 1950, she published her first book, Henry Huggins. In subsequent books, she introduced Ramona Quimby, her most mischievous character. “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,” she said.
Cleary authored more than 30 books for children and young adults and sold more than 91 million copies of her books worldwide. Her books have won numerous awards, including the John Newbery Medal and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. In 2000, the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend.”
In 1940, she eloped with Clarence Cleary, a devout Catholic, over her Presbyterian parents’ objections. They remained married until his death in 2004. They had twins—a boy and a girl—three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
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Gaye is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.