Beverly Cleary Says ‘Drop Everything And Read’

American Icons, Featured Article, People, Traditions
on August 7, 2013
David Mudd Members of the Story Pirates acting troupe portray book characters Ramona and Beezus during a program at Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park, Ill., during “Drop Everything and Read Day.”

Beverly Cleary’s lifelong work—fostering a love of reading in children—is honored nationwide each April on the author’s birthday with D.E.A.R. celebrations that encourage families to “Drop Everything and Read” together.

“I was lucky. I grew up before television,” says Cleary, fondly recalling how she listened to her mother and teachers read books aloud. “I wish more adults would read to their children—as well as to themselves. Children learn by example.”

D.E.A.R. programs are held nationwide on April 12 to celebrate Beverly Cleary’s birthday, since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in “Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

Inspired by letters from readers sharing their enthusiasm for local D.E.A.R. activities, Cleary decided to give the same experience to Ramona and her classmates.

Jim Trelease, author of “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” says Cleary’s books provide a natural “springboard for conversation” among children and adults. An educator and speaker on reading skills, he encourages parents to read aloud to their children as often as possible and as early as possible, even when they are infants.

“Reading aloud creates a wonderful bond between the reader and listener,” says Trelease, 72. “If you read “Ramona the Pest” to a child and just enjoy Ramona’s antics, these moments serve as a commercial for the pleasures of reading.”

Joshua Bond, 8, was intrigued enough by this year’s D.E.A.R. program at Longfellow Elementary School to seek out his family’s copy of “Beezus and Ramona,” which was read by his mother at his age.

“She loves Beverly Cleary books,” Joshua says, flipping through the yellowed, gently worn pages. “I’m going to read it cover to cover!”

For more information on D.E.A.R. celebrations, click here.