Although over two decades have passed since Cleary published her last book, her contributions to the literary world remain unmatched.
Beverly Cleary, the legendary children's author who brought the beloved Ramona Quimby books to the world, celebrated her 104th birthday on Sunday. Although over two decades have passed since the icon published her last book, her contributions to the literary world and the part they've played in the childhoods of generations of young readers, remain unmatched. Even today, Cleary's stories about Ramona Quimby, her big sister Beezus, Henry Huggins, his fourlegged pal Ribsy, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and more, hold great significance to her fans, many of whom took to social media to wish the author a happy birthday.
Beverly Cleary, who has helped instill a love of reading in children for decades, was born 104 years ago today. Like many of us, she worked under the editorial supervision of a cat. pic.twitter.com/SZdbuQABFY— David C. Tucker (@DavCTucker) April 12, 2020
Cleary's birthday, April 12, holds special significance to ardent readers as it is also celebrated as the National D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day by publisher HarperCollins in honor of the author's immense contributions to the world of literary arts. Although she has earned a number of prestigious awards for her work and is undeniably one of the most successful authors in history, the achievement she's most proud of is "the fact that children love my books."
When I was 7 I sent a letter to Beverly Cleary asking if she’d write a book where Ramona met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and she wrote back “Sure, if I live to be 104!” Well guess what Beverly https://t.co/X2PtpXZHoa— Chris Scott (@iamchrisscott) April 12, 2020
A very happy 104th birthday to national treasure Beverly Cleary.— Amanda MacGregor (@CiteSomething) April 12, 2020
I think I'll reread Ramona the Pest today. Here's one of my favorite lines: “She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next.” pic.twitter.com/oVvWU9KY3J
Happy birthday to my favorite author, Beverly Cleary! When I was a kid, her books were not just books to me. They were my friends. They were my heart. And in the case of Ribsy, changed my life!— Victoria J Coe (@victoriajcoe) April 12, 2020
Which Beverly Clearly books are your faves?#BeverlyCleary104 #BeverlyCleary #DEAR pic.twitter.com/5CWF8f6GPW
Speaking to TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager back in 2016 on the occasion of turning 100, Cleary revealed that she'd never expected to make it to the century mark. "I remember a very earnest conversation my best friend and I had when we were, I guess, freshmen in high school, about how long we wanted to live," she recalled. "And we decided that 80 was the cut-off date." When asked about surpassing that cut-off by over two decades, the author responded in true Ramona fashion: "Well, I didn't do it on purpose!"
Although many have observed this similarity between Cleary and her most famous character, Ramona, the author herself believes there's a distinct difference between them. "I thought like Ramona," she told The Washington Post, "but I was a very well-behaved little girl." The author's description of the beloved character, therefore, gives us a glimpse into the workings of a young Cleary's brain: "She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next." Ramona-like thoughts apart, the renowned author's childhood was quite different from that of her plucky heroine.
Beverly Cleary is 104 years old today and I’ve said this before in some form or another but it absolutely delights me to know that she could theoretically write a Ramona book in which Ramona has a Tik Tok and listens to Lil’ Nas X.— Jeff Zentner (@jeffzentner) April 12, 2020
Happy 104th birthday to Beverly Cleary, one of the all-time great Pacific Northwest artists. pic.twitter.com/W4eHHCFDFi— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) April 12, 2020
I spent many hours of my childhood being entertained by her, so I’m pleased to be able to wish a happy 104th (!) birthday to the great Beverly Cleary.— Leonard Pitts, Jr. (@LeonardPittsJr1) April 12, 2020
According to her website, Cleary was born in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1916, and lived on a farm in Yamhill until she was old enough to attend school. While her life has been defined by her books, Cleary struggled with reading as a child. When her family moved to Portland, Oregon, she found herself in the grammar school's low reading circle—an experience that made her empathetic to the problems of struggling readers. Having conquered reading by the third grade, Cleary began toying with the idea of someday writing books for young readers; books she longed to read but was unable to find on the library shelves.
Happy Birthday to Beverly Cleary who is 104 today! Endless gratitude to the woman who enriched our lives as children, then our kids lives, and now my grandchildren’s as they enter the world’s of Ramona, Beezus, Henry Huggins, Ralph, Socks, Ribsy, Ralph Mouse and so many more. pic.twitter.com/yaqzNQJwJJ— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) April 12, 2020
Happy 104th birthday to the great Beverly Cleary! pic.twitter.com/Uiid5tyEkr— Karen Kilgariff (@KarenKilgariff) April 12, 2020
Beverly Cleary was in her 30's & working in a book store when she wondered if SHE could write. Turns out she could! She wrote over 40 books, selling 85 million copies. Authors live as long as their books are read. Cleary is still alive & still read at 104. Today is her birthday! pic.twitter.com/EG6a2xlIfu— Peter MacNicol (@PeterMacNicol1) April 12, 2020
"Books in those days, back in the 1920s, had been published in England, and the children had nannies and pony carts and they seemed like a bunch of sissies to me," she told Bush Hager. Cleary's books, therefore, do not feature pony carts or nannies. Instead, they are filled with characters you might find around you. Relatable characters who represent the experiences and emotions of actual American children.
To celebrate Beverly Cleary's 104th birthday, I'm reading my love-worn copy of Ramona the Pest - and sharing an essay I wrote for @HornBook a few years ago, "Everyone Needs a Ramona." https://t.co/Hg2riTCkWV pic.twitter.com/zelKteczO5— katemessner (@KateMessner) April 12, 2020
Happy 103rd birthday to Beverly Cleary, a woman whose writing I loved so much as a kid I still haven’t been able to part with these raggedy old things 😍 pic.twitter.com/9rv7NRc3yz— Ari Scott (@ariscott) April 12, 2019
Delighted to get to retweet this for another year. Happy 104th birthday Beverly Cleary! https://t.co/ca5iaW05NF— Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) April 12, 2020
Here's wishing the beloved author a very special birthday and many more to come.