When beloved children's book author Beverly Cleary was born in 1916, here are five ways the world would look to you:
1. You could walk into a dealership and buy this new 2-seater Saxon Runabout for around $395.00:
2. A stamp would cost you 2 cents.
3. Headlines would tell about the terrible human cost of twenty-six major World War I battles throughout 1916.
4. For the first time, Sears, Roebuck and Co. offered house kits already "measured, fitted and cut to exact size." You could receive all the materials you needed, through the mail, to build this home for $583.00:
5. You probably wouldn't have a telephone, though. Only 8% of households had one.
April 12, 1916: Celebrating a Very Good Day
It fits perfectly that Beverly Cleary will now celebrate her 103rd birthday during National Library Week (April 7-13, 2019).
Born on April 12, Beverly's life has always been influenced by libraries and books. Living on a farm in Yamhill, Oregon, her community was too small to have a library. Her mother arranged for books to be brought in and acted as the librarian to give area children, and especially her daughter, the love of reading. What a gift this turned out to be for Beverly and everyone who loves to read!
The author's website relates that after the family moved to Portland, Beverly had a difficult time with reading at her new urban school. This experience gave her "sympathy for the problems of struggling readers" and became one of the turning points in her life, influencing the way she would later write for children.
Beverly Cleary's childhood home in Portland, Oregon
By the third grade, Beverly's reading skills were going strong and she never looked back. She says she "spent much of her childhood either with books or on her way to or from the public library." It sounds very much like my own childhood!
A Librarian and a Dream
It was a school librarian who suggested to Beverly that she become a children's book writer when she grew up.
With that dream in mind, Beverly went on to graduate with a B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley in 1938. She became a children's librarian herself, earning a degree in library science from the University of Washington. She eloped with Clarence Cleary in 1940, after her parents' disapproval of the match.
Beverly published her first book, Henry Huggins, in 1950. Her stories have become an intrinsic part of childhood with their gentle humor, real-life situations and sympathy for the struggles and joys of girls and boys everywhere.
A Living Legend
Her books and life have been honored with the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor Books, National Book Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association. In 2000, she was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress.
This Girl From Yamhilldefinitely landed on her Own Two Feet.
More to Explore
To honor Beverly Cleary's 103rd year, drop everything and read—the first D.E.A.R. Day happened in Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
Beverly Cleary planned to celebrate her 100th birthday with a slice of carrot cake. Consider having some carrot cake this year too as you treat yourself to reading in honor of Beverly Cleary.
Linda Borromeo is the author of Mystery Shores, a children's book taking place on a lighthouse island filled with secrets. Join Christie Edwards and Melina Karyotakis as they fight to find answers and reclaim their future.