Follow AAE on:

Subscribe to RSS Feed:

The lasting influence of Beverly Cleary
posted by: Melissa | March 29, 2021, 07:32 PM   

My mother read Beezus and Ramona when she was a child. By the time I was in elementary school, I was firmly ensconced in the whole Ramona series. Decades later, when I entered the classroom, Dear Mr. Henshaw was considered a classic and part of the canon that every student read.


It is seldom that an author has such a wide impact on so many generations of children, but Beverly Cleary was such an author. Her books became so beloved because she, like few others, seemed to understand the minds of her young readers, the lives they lived, and their daily concerns and worries, giving them a timelessness that few works of literature achieve.

Instead of focusing on fantasy worlds or adventure stories, Mrs. Cleary did something truly radical. She wrote about children’s normal lives. She followed them at home and to school and then to the playground in a clear, direct style. In doing so, she created characters that students could identify with and see themselves in.

This month at AAE, we’ve been honoring the contributions of women in education. So, I do not want to just mourn Beverly Cleary, but I also want honor her for the impact that she’s had both in the classroom and outside it.

There is not an elementary library in this country that doesn’t contain some of her works. Each year, teachers across the country read her works aloud to their students. It’s no wonder that modern authors for children or young adults often list her as a major influence. Nor is it still considered radical to write simple stories about children in their own environments and the struggles they face in their everyday lives. Mrs. Cleary’s influence on classroom literature is so deep that D.E.A.R. Day is held on her birthday - April 12.

With Mrs. Cleary’s recent passing, we have lost a legend of a woman, author, and educator. However, we can be assured that Ramona and Henry and Beezus will continue to enchant children for generations to come.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Submit a comment
 (not published)
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters