I owe my love of reading to three women- my mother, my grandmother and someone who I never had the pleasure of meeting, but whose work had a profound influence on me nonetheless- Beverly Cleary.
While I was admittedly a reluctant reader (at first) as soon as I picked up the habit, I never stopped. And it was Ms. Cleary’s characters- Henry Huggins, Beezus, Ramona and Ribsy who helped me learn to love books. The kids of Klickitat Street were just like me and their adventures started my lifelong love of reading- a skill that earned me the vaunted title of ‘Royal Reader’ back in elementary school and led me to Berkeley, which was also, coincidentally, Beverly Cleary’s alma mater.
Obviously, there were great teachers who also helped me along the way, but Ms. Cleary’s books were a huge influence on me, igniting my imagination and making me a dedicated, engaged reader. The language skills that I learned by reading Ms. Cleary’s books have stayed with me for a lifetime and I cherish the memories I have of reading them.
Since I had dedicated family members and teachers who made sure that I learned to love reading and knowledge, I still might have ended up becoming an avid reader who loves learning new things even if I had never heard of Beverly Cleary, but luckily I don’t have to find out what life might have been like without her books. Beverly Cleary touched the lives of millions of children around the world; children she never even knew. She definitely had a positive influence on my life. So, thank you, Ms. Cleary for sharing your talent with the world. You couldn’t find the book you wanted to read on the shelf so you wrote it- and we are all better off because of it.