This Saturday, April 12th, is Beverly Cleary's Birthday--she will be 92 years young! In honor of her birthday, publisher HarperCollins and several national education related organizations (NEA, PTA, ASLC, and more) have declared April 12 as National Drop Everything and Read Day. This day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority.
Though most of Beverly Cleary's books were written many years ago, they are still popular among children today, which is a sure sign of classic children's literature. Children can relate to characters such as Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tidbits, Otis Spotford, and Leigh Botts (Dear Mr. Henshaw). Last year, I worked with a group of third graders at a local elementary school and one of the books we read together was Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The kids loved Ramona's quirky personality and the antics she inevitably found herself a part of. My son enjoyed the Henry Huggins and Ribsy books, too. I also really enjoyed reading Bevery Cleary's memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.
HarperCollins will send you a free Drop Everything and Read kit that includes a CD of an interview with Beverly Cleary (also available on the Reading Rockets website), a "Celebrate Reading Together" poster featuring Ramona, and serval sheets of stickers.
You may find D.E.A.R. events going on in your local community that you can join in, but you can also make it a day you celebrate in your classroom, library, or home. Read aloud one of Beverly Cleary's picturebooks: The Hullabaloo ABC, Petey's Bedtime Story, Lucky Chuck, The Growing-Up Feet, Janet's Thingamajigs, or Two Dog Biscuits, or read aloud a favorite section of one of your favorite chapter books. But most importanly, give children time to read Beverly Cleary's books on their own so the joy of her books will live on for many, many generations to come!