TUESDAY, APRIL 12—In 1916, Beverly Cleary was born to an Oregon farmer and schoolteacher. Their only child, Beverly had a strong will and found the books she was given to read at school were decidedly dull. As a result, she struggled to learn to read as a little girl—and later said that she felt so uncomfortable at school in those early years that she wanted to drop out.
Of course, her parents didn’t let her do that—and we’re all thankful that Beverly Cleary came to love reading. Eventually she became a librarian, but the old problem resurfaced: Too many books for young readers were boring!
In 1950, Cleary published the first of her many novels: Henry Huggins, which also introduced his beloved dog Ribsy.
Cleary says in recent interviews that she was determined not to offer lessons at the end of her stories.
“As a child, I very much objected to books that tried to teach me something,” she told The New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof. “I just wanted to read for pleasure, and I did. But if a book tried to teach me, I returned it to the library.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
This week, Kristof is among many writers urging families to enjoy books with their children to honor Cleary’s centennial.
Want more? Beverly Cleary’s “hometown newspaper,” The Oregonian, produced the following two-minute video.