Margot Spinelli

Written by Margot Spinelli

Modified & Updated: 04 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Beverly Cleary is an iconic figure in the world of children’s literature. Her books, with their relatable characters and timeless themes, have captivated readers of all ages for decades. From the mischievous adventures of Ramona Quimby to the heartwarming stories of Henry Huggins, Cleary’s work continues to resonate with readers around the globe.

But aside from her beloved books, there are many fascinating facts about Beverly Cleary that you may not be aware of. From her early influences to her enduring impact on children’s literature, there’s so much to discover about this literary legend. In this article, we’ll delve into 21 mind-blowing facts about Beverly Cleary that will deepen your appreciation for her work and legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Beverly Cleary’s relatable characters and genuine storytelling have inspired generations of readers, proving that authentic stories can captivate even the most hesitant readers and ignite a love for books.
  • Cleary’s enduring legacy lives on, with her timeless classics continuing to enchant readers young and old, ensuring that the magic of her storytelling will be discovered by future generations.
Table of Contents

Childhood Inspiration

Did you know that Beverly Cleary’s strong affinity for writing and storytelling began during her own childhood? Growing up in Oregon, Cleary found solace in books and often felt a strong connection with the characters she encountered on the pages.

Creating Believable Characters

One of Cleary’s remarkable talents as an author was her ability to create relatable and authentic characters. She believed that children could see through phony portrayals, and she dedicated herself to creating believable characters that young readers could truly identify with.

Breakthrough with “Henry Huggins”

Cleary’s literary breakthrough came in 1950 with the publication of “Henry Huggins.” This beloved book introduced readers to the lively and mischievous character of Henry and his lovable dog, Ribsy. It marked the beginning of Cleary’s successful career as a children’s author.

A Love for Libraries

Beverly Cleary had a deep appreciation for libraries and frequently emphasized their importance in her stories. She was inspired by her own experiences visiting the library as a child and wanted to instill that same love of reading and learning in her young readers.

Inspiration Strikes

Amazingly, Cleary didn’t begin writing children’s books until she was in her thirties. The inspiration to write for children struck her while working as a children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington. It was during this time that she realized the need for engaging and relatable stories for children.

Best Friends Forever

Throughout her books, Cleary often explored the theme of friendship. Her characters forged strong bonds with one another, navigating the ups and downs of life together. This emphasis on friendship resonated with readers and further endeared Cleary to her audience.

A Genuine Connection

Cleary firmly believed that she needed to connect with her young readers on a genuine level. She drew on her own childhood experiences and the experiences of real children she knew to create stories that were relatable and heartfelt.

The Ramona Quimby Series

Cleary’s most enduring and beloved character is the spunky and spirited Ramona Quimby. Through the Ramona Quimby series, Cleary captured the essence of childhood, addressing topics such as sibling rivalry, school struggles, and the challenges of growing up.

The “Beezus and Ramona” Movie

In 2010, a film adaptation of Cleary’s “Beezus and Ramona” was released, bringing the beloved characters to life on the big screen. The movie introduced a new generation of young readers to the whimsical world of Beverly Cleary.

Recognizing Cleary’s Contributions

In recognition of her remarkable contributions to children’s literature, Beverly Cleary was awarded numerous prestigious accolades, including the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.

A Model for Aspiring Writers

Cleary’s journey from aspiring writer to literary icon serves as an inspiration to countless aspiring authors. Her dedication to telling authentic stories and connecting with her readers has left a lasting impact on the world of children’s literature.

The World of Klickitat Street

Klickitat Street, the fictional setting of many of Cleary’s books, became an iconic place in children’s literature. Through her vivid descriptions, Cleary brought the neighborhood to life, making it feel like a real place that readers could visit in their imaginations.

Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Cleary’s books have served as a gateway to reading for countless reluctant readers. Her relatable characters and engaging storytelling have captured the hearts of even the most hesitant readers, igniting a passion for books that may have otherwise remained dormant.

Beyond the Written Word

Not only did Cleary captivate readers through her written words, but she also made appearances on several television programs, including “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “The Dick Cavett Show,” further solidifying her status as a beloved figure in the literary world.

Memorable Illustrations

Cleary’s books were often accompanied by illustrations, most notably those by famed illustrator Louis Darling. Darling’s illustrations brought Cleary’s characters to life, providing young readers with vivid visual references as they delved into the stories.

Cultural Impact

Beverly Cleary’s books have had a significant cultural impact, resonating with readers from different generations and backgrounds. Her stories have become timeless classics, transcending barriers and fostering a love of reading that spans across the globe.

Cleary’s Enduring Legacy

Even though Beverly Cleary passed away in March 2021 at the age of 104, her literary legacy continues to live on. Her books are still cherished by readers young and old, ensuring that future generations will continue to discover the magic of Beverly Cleary’s storytelling.

The Inspiration Behind Beezus

Beezus, one of Cleary’s beloved characters, was inspired by a young girl named Marianne Kirkegaard, who wrote to the author expressing her fondness for the Henry Huggins books. Cleary was so moved by the letter that she decided to base a character on Marianne in her subsequent books.

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden

In Portland, Oregon, you can find the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, a space dedicated to honoring Cleary’s contributions to children’s literature. The garden features sculptures of some of Cleary’s most memorable characters, providing a whimsical tribute to her work.

The Power of Cleary’s Words

Cleary’s words have the remarkable ability to transport readers into the minds and hearts of her characters. Through her writing, she captured the essence of childhood and encouraged countless young readers to embrace their own unique journeys.

Celebrating an Icon

On April 12th, the birthday of Beverly Cleary, fans around the world celebrate “Drop Everything and Read” (D.E.A.R.) Day. This special day encourages people of all ages to take a few minutes out of their day to indulge in the joy of reading, honoring Cleary’s impact on literacy and storytelling.


Beverly Cleary is a literary icon whose impact on children’s literature is immeasurable. Her relatable characters, heartfelt stories, and ability to capture the essence of childhood have made her beloved by readers of all ages. From her humble beginnings in Yamhill, Oregon, to her illustrious career as a bestselling author, Cleary’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations of writers and readers alike. Whether you grew up with Ramona Quimby or discovered Cleary’s books later in life, her works will always hold a special place in our hearts. Beverly Cleary has proven that the power of storytelling can transcend time and touch the lives of millions. Her contributions to literature will be celebrated for years to come.


Q: What are some of Beverly Cleary’s most popular books?

A: Some of Beverly Cleary’s most popular books include “Beezus and Ramona,” “Ramona the Pest,” “Henry Huggins,” and “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.”

Q: Where did Beverly Cleary get her inspiration for her characters?

A: Beverly Cleary often drew inspiration from her own childhood experiences and observations. Many of her characters were based on real people she knew or encounters she had throughout her life.

Q: How did Beverly Cleary revolutionize children’s literature?

A: Beverly Cleary revolutionized children’s literature by introducing relatable characters and genuine emotions into her storytelling. She tackled topics that resonated with young readers, such as sibling relationships, school experiences, and everyday challenges, making her books more relevant and engaging.

Q: What awards did Beverly Cleary receive for her contributions to literature?

A: Beverly Cleary received numerous prestigious awards during her career, including the Newbery Medal, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and National Medal of Arts.

Q: Are Beverly Cleary’s books still popular today?

A: Absolutely! Beverly Cleary’s books continue to be popular and timeless, captivating readers of all generations. Her works are frequently included in school curricula and cherished by families who pass them down from one generation to the next.

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