ALPENA, Mich.– Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary passed away recently at the age of 104. We asked Alpena’s librarians why her books are so special.
Cleary worked as a children’s librarian before publishing her first book, “Henry Huggins,” in 1950. She continued to pen book after book for decades, finishing with “Ramona’s World” in 1999.
Pat Garrant, Alpena librarian and former teacher, grew up on Cleary’s books and read them to her students. Garrant said Cleary’s books remain popular because they’re about the parts of childhood that never change.
“Ramona is a little sister. An annoying little sister. And if you’re a big sister or if you’re a little sister, that’s fun to read about.”
Fellow librarian Sara Grochowski said Cleary’s characters, often troublemakers, reflected childhood honestly and helped kids feel understood.
“You can have these differences and be messy and be loud and still be loved. It doesn’t make you less. And i think it gave a lot of kids permission to be themselves and live their lives.”
Many children’s authors, including Judy Blume, say they were inspired by Cleary’s books.
Beverly Cleary may be gone, but kids will keep reading her books for generations. And in those books, they’ll find her voice telling them that it’s okay to be imperfect.