Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh D.E.A.R. It's Beverly Cleary's Birthday!

Raise your hand if you grew up reading about Ramona, Beezus and Henry Huggins. ME! ME! My childhood would not have been complete without them. I think I have read all of their books at least a few dozen times apiece. One of my all-time favorites was Beezus and Ramona. In fact, I am reading it to my students right now.

I could always relate to poor Beezus and was always grateful that my little sister wasn't as much of a stinker. My other favorite was Ramona Quimby, Age 8, probably because I was about that age when I first read it. I could also relate to Ramona's frustrations with life at that point.

But there was more to Beverly Cleary that just the stories about Klickitat Street.

My sister's favorite book was Socks, about a rescued kitten whose place of honor gets usurped by the new baby. In fact, we named our first pet cat Socks. This one is also a favorite in my classroom.

The Ralph S. Mouse collection helped me to be a little less fearful of mice. My favorite was always The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

She also wrote about Muggie Maggie, a third-grader who couldn't read well and despised cursive. I read this to a third grader I was tutoring, who had similar problems.

I also learned a bit about young love in her books geared more toward teens. Fifteen was my favorite of all of those. I couldn't wait until I was also fifteen and could find such a boyfriend. (It didn't work out quite that way, but I digress.)

Today is Beverly Cleary's birthday. She is still going strong at a whopping 96 years of age. It is her fault that so many of us fell in love with reading. In fact, today is National Drop Everything And Read Day, thanks to her stories of Ramona and D.E.A.R. in school. It was chosen to honor her on her birthday, because she inspired so many of us to do it on a daily basis.

Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for years of inspiration and a lifelong love of reading.

What were your favorite Beverly Cleary books?

(For more information, click on any book cover above.)

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