My oldest, Zoe was and still is an avid reader. It was never too difficult to find books that she would devour - Harry Potter, Molly Moon, Ivy & Bean, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 39 Clues, Percy Jackson, and on and on. Lila, on the other hand, has been more of a challenge. She definitely was not interested in the same books as her older sister. It wasn't until I rediscovered Ramona and shared Beezus and Ramona with Lila that I realized I was on to something. Lila preferred reading stories and characters that she could relate to. And just like that, I have another avid reader in the family.
Clearly wrote about relatable characters in a recognizable world, tackling emotions and experiences of real children. So despite the fact that the first book was written in 1955, the stories and experiences are still just as relevant today as it was when she first wrote them. The issues in these books are still ones that children today deal with - What if my teacher doesn't understand me? What if I don't like my sibling? What if someone does something cruel to me?
illustration by Louis Darling from "Ramona The Pest" (1968); courtesy of Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota
Thank you Beverly Cleary for writing books about "real kids" and "real experiences" and providing inspiration to other children's book authors. I loved your books as a kid and love that I get to share them with my kids. So, in honor of Beverly Cleary becoming a centurion, let's celebrate in true Ramona style and make "a great big noisy fuss."