Friday, April 8, 2016

Beverly Cleary's 100th Birthday Celebration

Newport Public Library Celebrates Children’s Author Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday!

It’s coming up. Children’s author Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday. April 12, 2016 marks her 100th Birthday and what a birthday it will be, with many celebrations nationwide at schools, libraries, public performance spaces, bookstores, and I am sure Ms. Cleary will be having a private birthday celebration too (of which am not privy to the details, except that she wants a slice of carrot cake).

Here at the Newport Public Library we 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 actual birthday, we will have some activities in the McEntee room after school starting at 3:45 until 5:00 p.m.

A native of McMinnville, Oregon, Cleary attended grade school and high school in the Portland area. Beverly loved books, thanks in part to her mother securing books through the Oregon State Library. Yet, in her early days as a reader and writer she struggled until a much adored second grade teacher gave her the boost she needed. By age eight she was a more accomplished reader and was inspired by her third grade teacher’s encouragement to read and write, and she was urged by her 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, characters who would represent regular kids. In addition to winning over a huge fan base, Cleary is the winner of many honors and awards, including being named a “Library of Congress Living Legend”, and receiving the prestigious Newbery Medal, she even has a K-8th grade school in Portland named after her. If I had to guess how many of Beverly Cleary’s books I own, I would say, “All of them!” So, like a good librarian I did a quick search and found out that Cleary has written over 40 works. Okay, so I don’t own ALL of her books, (I only own 15), mostly those in her “Ramona” series.

Although the last one was written in 1999, Cleary’s Ramona books have lasting appeal for children. Perhaps that is why they have sold in more than 20 different languages in 20 plus countries. Cleary says, "In 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." Well said, and oh so true, as we well know being in the biz of early literacy, children’s programming and early childhood development.

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

We hope you will join us here 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!

Now, don’t you think it’s DEAR time!

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