Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary
Did you know that Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916? In celebration of her 97th birthday our family would like to share a tour of the places that inspired Beverly’s beloved stories.
Portland is a mixture of urban living with rugged wild west and progressive thinking and never ceases to surprise me. It boasts a variety of urban museums, parks, and event venues. One can become too busy in Portland! Portland is also inspiration for one of the most loved children’s authors: Beverly Cleary.
Beverly Cleary spent her early years on a farm in Yamhill, Oregon, a small farming town in the heart of Willamette Valley. Her paternal grandparents built a beautiful house where Beverly’s father was raised. The house is on the National Register of Historical Places.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Today Yamhill is a small community with a little under 1,000 residents that has become a magnet for country folks and tourists alike. Vineyards dot the countryside alongside traditional farms and ranches. It is a beautiful place in the summertime!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
In first grade Beverly and her family moved to Portland. Quite a change from the freedom of the farm, she found herself in a classroom struggling with reading. However, by third grade reading became easier. These early experiences gave her a sympathy for struggling readers and would inspire her writing style in the future.
Did You Know? Beverly Cleary herself was a struggling reader as a girl?
Beverly grew up in Northeast Portland near the famous street of Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and Beezus Quimby’s childhood: Klickitat Street. Klickitat Street runs east-west for 3.75 miles in Northeast Portland located between two major Interstate Highways. This area of Portland is known for tree-lined streets and an abundance of Old-PDX, bungalows and cottages. It is still a very desirable area to live. We took a drive recently to visit the neighborhood and see the place that inspired Beverly to write one of our favorite stories.
Grant Park is located at NE 33rd Avenue & Brazee Street. The 19 acre park was acquired in 1922. It has the usual neighborhood park features: baseball field, restrooms, playground, picnic areas. Grant Park was the location for many Ramona and Henry adventures. In 1991, the Friends of Henry and Ramona began a fund-raising campaign for their vision. They envisioned a place that would be called Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children. The Sculpture Garden was dedicated on October 13, 1995.
The garden features the life-sized bronze statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy. It includes a tribute on granite tiles listing the books and when they were published. During the summer it is a fun place when the fountains spring!
The Portland artist Lee Hunt did an amazing job of bringing these beloved characters to life!
The best part of our tour is actually an old favorite. Every person needs to visit the Central Library in Portland, Oregon. This is one of the most AMAZING libraries. This isn’t just because it holds a ton of books. The architecture inside and out is beyond awe-inspiring. (Note: Look UP as you walk through the doors!)
Photo Credit Multnomah Central Library Building: Wikipedia
The children’s library is named for Beverly Cleary. Let me tell you, as an adult it is impressive. Little kids LOVE this place. Even my tweens/teens had to admit it was pretty cool. The opening is trimmed in beautiful wood (if I had to guess it’s Fir), giving it a “Welcome Home” feel! From the moment one steps inside it feels like home.
The children’s library houses the Bronze Tree, a sculpture designed to draw children into the world of learning. A-MAZ-ING!
If your family visits Portland, let me know and I’ll be happy to be your tour guide!
- The official D.E.A.R. Website by HarperCollins
- The official Beverly Cleary Website
- Free Beezus and Ramona Unit Study by Miss Kolis
- The Complete Ramona Collection
- Free D.E.A.R. Reading Lesson
- Read A Girl from Yamhill: Beverly Cleary
- The Complete Collection of Ralph Mouse
- The Henry Huggins Set
Share with us: What is your favorite Beverly Cleary character?
We are huge Beverly Clearly fans! We visited the park during a trip to Portland last summer. It was an unusually hot period for that area and the fountain was out of water. We still enjoyed the statues of Henry and Ribsy. 🙂 We have another trip there later this fall. We will have to visit the library. It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!!