This week in Fragments and Shrapnel, I’m going to drop the silly and sarcastic in exchange for something near and dear to my heart.
Ya see, April 12th is a very important date and should be for everyone. Not only did Euro Disneyland open on this date in 1992, but it is also the birthday of one my favorite childhood authors, Beverly Cleary. If it weren’t for Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, my adolescence would have been really messy. Well, messier than it already was. There’s a joke in my family that I didn’t smile until I was 18 (probably because I graduated from High School) but Beverly and Judy taught me that it was OK to have emotions and occasionally not like my parents and have a family that argues and worries about money. Ramona Quimby cried in front of her teachers and acted out in front of her parents. Her dad started smoking around the same time my dad did and reacted the same way as my dad did when my sister and I would bother him about his 2-pack a day habit. In many ways, I could relate to Ramona.
This year on April 12th the nation (well, me and few librarians and other lovers of Beverly Cleary books) will celebrate Drop Everything and Read Day. The goal is to get people to turn off their TVs, put away their cell phones and electronics, and just sit down and read. If you can’t sit for long, then sit for 30 minutes and read. It’s a day to teach reading as a priority and not just something you do when the TV is broke.
Beverly Cleary moved to Portland when she was a kid and her contributions to literature are celebrated all through the city: Klickitat Street, Beverly Cleary School, statues of Ramona, Henry and Ribsy. The Beverly Cleary room in the Multnomah County library is a gorgeous tribute to her. Powell’s has a warehouse dedicated to her. There are walking tours around town where you can see the house she grew up in and places she worked. It makes me proud to live in a city where reading is encouraged and celebrated.
That’s why I encourage you to take a few minutes and drop everything and read. I spent a day a couple of weeks ago with a librarian showing her around town listening to her oooh and awe. Being with her and listening to her tales of the library reminded me just how important it is to read, buy books, and support your local library.
For more information on Beverly Cleary click here.