Meet the Author

Beverly Cleary

Portrait of Beverly Cleary

Although her books have been enjoyed by generations of kids, Beverly Cleary herself didn't enjoy reading as a child — at least not at first. In first grade she was grouped with the slowest readers in her class. By second grade, she says, "although I could read if I wanted to, I no longer wanted to. Reading was not fun. It was boring. Most of the stories were simplified versions of folktales that had been read aloud to me many times. There were no surprises left."

But on a rainy day in third grade, Cleary had a life-changing experience. Out of boredom she began reading The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins. "To me, a solitary child," she explains, "the idea of twins was fascinating. A twin would never be lonely…. In this story, something happened. With rising elation, I read on. I read all afternoon and evening, and by bedtime I had read not only The Dutch Twins but The Swiss Twins as well. It was one of the most exciting days of my life."

When Cleary became a librarian, she met children who were bored with traditional children's books, just as she had been. So she began writing a book of her own, the book that became Henry Huggins. When she finished the book, Cleary had an experience most authors only dream about: Her manuscript was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to. That was 50 years ago. Now she has many beloved books to her credit and is appreciated by young and not-so-young readers alike. In 1995, bronze statues of her three best-known characters, Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Henry's dog, Ribsy, were dedicated in a park in Portland, Oregon, where the young Cleary lived and where books featuring those characters are set.

Beverly Cleary encourages young people who would like to be writers, but she also offers very practical advice: "If you're serious about becoming a professional writer, prepare to have some other way of earning a living. Many fine writers don't earn enough to live on. Read widely. Master the tools of writing. I know that spelling, punctuation, and grammar are boring, but they are necessary."

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by Beverly Cleary

  • Henry Huggins
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Ellen Tebbits
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Henry and Beezus
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Otis Spofford
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Henry and Ribsy
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Fifteen
    (illustrated by Joe Krush and Beth Krush)
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)
  • Mitch and Amy
    (illustrated by George Potter)
  • Socks
    (illustrated by Beatrice Darwin)
  • Strider
    (illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky)
  • Ramona's World
    (illustrated by Alan Tiegreen)
  • Runaway Ralph
    (illustrated by Louis Darling)