Cleary Turns 102

Kaley Ciluffo

On Thursday, April 12 beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary turned 102. Over the course of nearly 50 years, Cleary has treated thousands of young adults to the misadventures of her larger-than-life characters, such as Ramona Quimby and her little sister Beezus.

Best known for her “Henry Higgins and Ramona Quimby” series, Cleary has published dozens of books and has won the Newberry Medal, the National Book Award, and the Laura Ingles Wilder Award. 

Since 1950, 91 million copies of her books have been sold in 25 different languages worldwide.

Born in 1916 in Millville, Oregon, Cleary developed a love of stories from her mother, who was a volunteer librarian. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Cleary worked as a librarian until becoming a full-time writer in 1942. 

At the urging of a boy who marched up to her and demanded, “Where are the books about kids like us?” Cleary was inspired to write her first book, “Henry Higgins”,  which was published in 1950.

Cleary’s impact on kid-lit extends far beyond her novels. Her dynamic duos have inspired a pantheon of unruly, pint-sized kid heroines. Junie B. Jones, Harriet the Spy, Jo March, and other daring lit-girls all stare down the status quo and smash glass ceilings because of the iconic Ramona and Beezus books.

Throughout her career, Cleary has published more than 40 titles. Many have become uncontested classics, renowned for their candid and witty take on everyday life.  

Since their initial publications, many of Cleary’s classics have been converted into movies for the silver screen. Famous actors and actresses such as Selena Gomez, and Josh Duhamel were cast in the 2010 movie rendition of “Ramona and Beezus”.

In 2000, the Library of Congress honored her iconic career in literature by declaring Cleary a “Living Legend” and in 2003 she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts.