I’ve been thinking a lot about Beverly Cleary since she passed away on March 25, at the age of 104. It’s pretty amazing that her books, the first of which came out in 1950, still speak to so many children today. The reason for that, I think, is that she wrote some of our first truly child-centric stories. Her characters’ feelings, thoughts, and motivations still resonate with the children who read her books. Cleary famously said, in an interview with Bookpage: “Quite often somebody will say, ‘What year do your books take place?’ and the only answer I can give is, ‘In childhood.’” For a child to see their life reflected in a book is a beautiful thing. Let’s honor Beverly Cleary’s contribution to children’s literature by exploring books by and about her, and also looking at her legacy in more recent books that reflect an even wider diversity of experience. Click on any book cover to go to the online catalog where you can place a hold.
Want to read a moving tribute from local author Renee Watson? Published by Portland Monthly, “What Ramona Quimby Taught Me About Taking Up Space” can be found here.
The Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Awards
Each year, children of all ages can vote for their favorite from a carefully chosen list of nominees in the 2nd-3rd Grade reading level range. The winner is revealed on Beverly Cleary’s birthday, April 12th. Looking through the list of past winners is a great way to find titles that have the same spirit as Beverly Cleary’s own books. Below are some of the more recent winners, which include some fantastic nonfiction as well as chapter books – to view more, and to learn about the award’s history, visit their website: The Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Awards.
Shark Lady: the true story of how Eugenie Clark became the ocean’s most fearless scientist / written by Jess Keating; illustrations by Marta Álvarez Miguéns.
Whoosh! : Lonnie Johnson’s super-soaking stream of inventions / written by Chris Barton; illustrated by Don Tate.
The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea / written by Brenda Z. Guiberson; illustrated by Gennady Spirin.
Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year / written by Bill Harley; illustrated by Adam Gustavson.
8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos / written by Vivian Vande Velde; illustrated by Steve Björkman.
In the Spirit of Beverly Cleary
Here’s a selection of favorites for a variety of reading levels that bring the spirit of Beverly Cleary’s books to all kinds of readers.