Beverly Cleary Children's book Writer and novelist


Beverly Cleary was born in McMinnville, Oregon. The only child in her family, she grew up on a farm in Yamhill with her mom and dad until she was able to go to school. Yamhill did not have a library, so her mother arranged for the State Library to send books to Yamhill, and she acted as the librarian in a lodge room upstairs over a bank. This is the time of her life when Beverly Cleary learned to love books. Before starting first grade, her Beverly Cleary and her family moved to Portland, Oregon.

School Years

Even though Beverly Cleary had a deep love for books and reading, she was placed in her class's lowest reading group when she started 1st grade. As she distinctly recalls, her reading group was named "Blackbirds", and she longed to be amongst the "Redbirds" and "Bluebirds" who read at higher levels. However, after Cleary's school librarian introduced her to books she actually liked, she read more and more and was caught up to the other students by third grade. In sixth grade, the school librarian suggested that Cleary write children's books, based on her love for reading and ability to write.

After graduating high school, Beverly Cleary attended Chaffey Junior College with the goal of becoming a Children's librarian. After two years, she was accepted to the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned a degree in English. A year later, she graduated from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington.

Why Writing?

After working as a librarian for several years, making recommendations to students, and performing live storytelling, Beverly Cleary decided that she wanted to read more stories that students could relate to. However, she couldn't find what she was looking for. Having been a struggling reader, herself, Cleary empathized with students who had difficulty reading and who needed books with which they could identify.

So, Beverly Cleary took matters into her own hands and started writing children's books. She wrote books that had ideas that appealed to her, made her laugh, and that contained stories about her neighborhood and the sort of children she grew up with. These memories manifested into her most famous characters: Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and more!


Beverly Cleary has written picture books and novels. Other than her two memoirs, Beverly Cleary writes within the Realistic and Fantasy genres. The majority of Cleary's Realistic Fiction novels are about people living ordinary lives, and they are based on her own childhood experiences, the kids in her neighborhood, and children she met while working as a librarian. The star of Cleary's Fantasy books is a mouse named Ralph who is always up for finding adventure! Her book, "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" has even been made into a movie!


Beverly Cleary has been quoted numerous times talking about the importance of books and reading, and inspiring adults and students to join in on the fun!


Beverly Cleary's books are still used in classrooms today, and students of all ages read them and relate to their content. Cleary's books have lasted because she understands her audience and their need to understand the world around them, especially the things that adults can dismiss. She has a talent for creating memorable young characters whose spirit and zest for life attract young and old readers alike.

Aside from numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal in 1984 and the National Book Award in Children's Fiction in 1981, Cleary has influenced cities and institutions. In the area of Portland where she grew up, a large map of Henry Huggins's (one of her characters) Klickitat Street, is drawn on the library's lobby wall. Additionally, her old grade school was renamed Beverly Cleary School, and statues of several characters from her books reside in Portland's Grant Park.

A residence hall at the University of California, Berkeley is named after her, and her birthday, April 12th, is recognized as National Drop Everything and Read Day - an initiative started by Cleary, herself. Most importantly, Cleary has influenced other writers and has inspired them to write books that appeal to young readers and enhance their love for learning. To this day, Beverly Cleary continues to read, and encourage others to do the same, at the impressive age of 100.

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Ronnie Brust

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