Best-selling children’s book author Beverly Cleary who created the iconic world of Beezus and Ramona among others passed away on March 26 in Carmel, California, confirmed a HarperCollins Publishers press release. She was 104.
Cleary set the standard for realistic children’s fiction as early as 1950 when she published her first book, Henry Huggins. Not only was the Newbury Medal-winner a mainstay in generations of childhood experiences but she also inspired the young-adult fiction of Judy Blume.
“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too…” said Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, in the memo.
To honor Cleary, here are some of our book recommendations for your children. After all, in Murphy’s words, “her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”
1. Beezus and Ramona
No list of Cleary’s works or any catalog of books for young minds can be complete without mentioning Beezus and Ramona. Enjoy the ups and downs of sisterhood with the Quimby sisters while admiring the illustrations of Cleary’s frequent creative partner Jacqueline Rogers.
2. The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Meet Ralph S. Mouse in the first book of this trilogy. Ralph loves to ride a good toy motorcycle like any other respectable mouse. Read about his fascination with it and his friendship with human boy Keith in The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
3. A Girl from Yamhill
Cleary may have lived in Carmel since 1960, but her roots lie in her family farm Yamhill in McMinnville, Oregon. Read about her life during the Great Depression and how she discovered her love for reading in A Girl from Yamhill.
4. Henry Huggins
Henry is Cleary’s first published creation and a neighborhood friend of Ramona and Beezus. Henry’s average life turns upside-down when he meets a mischievous and loveable puppy. Reading Henry Huggins will open young readers to his big world in little Oregon, with many more sequels to relish.
5. Dear Mr. Henshaw
Cleary tackled difficult topics like divorce, insecurity and bullying in Dear Mr. Henshaw. It follows young Leigh Botts after he moves to a new town with his mother once his parents’ divorce. The sixth-grader forms an unconventional friendship with his favorite author Boyd Henshaw after he writes to him to make sense of his turbulent emotions.
These five books are only a primer to Cleary’s thought-provoking writing. Her style imparts valuable lessons to children without infantilizing them, and with a light-heartedness that reminds even grown-ups to not take life too seriously. Cleary’s books can be purchased from this comprehensive list here.