My friend, Beverly Cleary, died yesterday at the very seasoned age of 104. What an amazing and remarkable life she had lived. Some of you may be saying, “Wow! Melody knows Beverly Cleary?!” And, while I did not know her personally, I do indeed feel like I knew her.
A childhood full of stories
One of the first novels I ever read cover-to-cover was Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Ramona’s adventures, sibling troubles and honest life-lessons, wrapped up in a humorous narrative engaged me in the same way that Lisa Frank notebooks and the New Kids On The Block did when I was a kid. It’s funny because when I think of Beverly Cleary and other beloved children’s authors like Judy Blume, Louis Sachar, and Roald Dahl, I feel strangely possessive and proud. I feel like these books…these authors, belong to ME and the other kids who grew up in the 80’s, during a time of cassette tapes and cigarette lighters in cars. But, the authors above began writing long before I was lucky enough to read them. Cleary published her first novel in 1950. Many children before me loved Henry Huggins, his friend Beezus, and welcomed Ramona, the pesky little sister in 1955. Cleary created timeless characters that appealed to children long before I got to know them and will continue to delight young readers for years to come.
“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.”Beverly Cleary
The beauty of writing is that words endure. We mourn the loss of an author in many ways. We pay tribute by buying their novels, tweeting, reading and writing articles of remembrance and sometimes celebrating their life if schools. As a librarian turned author, I believe that Beverly Cleary would love to be honored by reading. As a reading specialist, I spend much of my time encouraging and engaging people of all ages to read. As Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” But, a lesson I take from the loss of Cleary is that she will endure because she was a writer.
We should write. Just as we should read every day, we should write every single day. Whether you enjoy writing stories or poetry, making lists, or simply recording your day-to-day living through journaling, we should write every day. Our words will live on longer than our bodies.
To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.Allen Ginsberg
Find your voice—begin writing today!
In memory of our friend, Beverly Cleary. May you live forever in our hearts and remind us that our voices are timeless when we take the time to write.
Happy Reading…and Writing!