Beverly Cleary's birthday sparks a nationwide celebration of reading. On April 12th, Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day, families are asked to put aside all distractions and read for 30 minutes. This day of reading is celebrated on Beverly Cleary's birthday because of her Newbery Honor book (1982), Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Beverly Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in the book (pages 39-42) because she received many letters from her readers expressing their love for the reading activity. Ramona shares the same excitement and describes it as "the best part of the day."
The D.E.A.R. website states that this day is a reminder of how important it is to establish daily routines of reading. I can remember doing Sustained Silent Reading when I was in elementary school. Ramona Quimby feels calling the reading activity by this name sounds more grown-up. I thought SSR was cool because their were no expectations, no follow-up assignments, and I could read what I wanted to read (even magazines were allowed!). Ramona's classmates were slightly skeptical of the low expectations when the activity was introduced. However, that is all that it is, read for reading's sake.
On the D.E.A.R. website there are tons of resources to make your day extra special at home or at school. There are resources to help you host an event. Also, there are lots of reproducibles (certificates, sticker templates) and activity ideas (parents, librarians, and teachers). Also, provided on the webpage is a list of family reading tips (download as a Microsoft Word document).
Beverly Cleary won the Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984. This was one my favorite novels to read when I was teaching students with learning disabilities. The book starts as a series of letters the main character, Leigh Botts, writes to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw. I felt this was a perfect time to practice writing letters to friends and family. In the letters we asked for a unique postcard response to display on a bulletin board in the classroom.
Near the beginning of the book Leigh Botts is in sixth grade and is required to do an author report to improve their writing. He puts together a list of questions that he sends to Boyd Henshaw to help make his report a little easier. Mr. Henshaw does respond, however, not in time for the report and the answers to the questions were not answered in the way that Leigh expected. Additionally, Mr. Henshaw includes 10 questions for Leigh to complete. I assigned these 10 questions to my students as a writing assignment. The answers were very interesting, however, they were as thrilled as Leigh was to be doing all the writing. Here is a link to the printable handout.
At the time I was reading Dear Mr. Henshaw with my class I was experimenting using visual supports with my students to aid in comprehension. I created comprehension questions that I had available to ask my students during and after their reading. However, some of my students needed a little more support. I was using a program called Speaking Dynamically Pro with Boardmaker that was usually used for students that have communication difficulties. I liked the software for its ability to quickly make visuals that had auditory feedback. I made a PDF of the visuals for my Dear Mr. Henshaw questions. This PDF doesn't have the auditory component because you need the special assistive technology software to access that feature. However, if this software is available to you, just send me an email and I can get the files for you to use. I am sure you could still come up with a creative way to use these printouts as you read the story.
School Library Journal just posted an interview of Beverly Cleary for her 94th birthday!
Click here to download this week's library checklist!
More Books By Beverly Cleary:
Ramona: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona and Her Father(Newbery Honor Book), Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Forever, Ramona the Brave, Ramona the Pest, Ramona's World
Ralph: Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ralph S. Mouse, Runaway Ralph
Henry and Beezus: Henry and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy, Henry and the Clubhouse, Henry and the Paper Route, Henry Huggins, Ribsy
Other Novels: Muggie Maggie, Socks, Ellen Tebbits, Emily's Runaway Imagination, Strider, Mitch and Amy
Picture Books: Janet's Thingamajigs, Lucky Chuck, Petey's Bedtime Story, The Growing-Up Feet, The Hullabaloo ABC, Two Dog Biscuits
Other: Two Times the Fun, Fifteen, Jean and Johnny, The Luckiest Girl, Sister of the Bride
Memoirs: A Girl from Yamhill, My Own to Feet
1. Beverly Cleary's Website
2. D.E.A.R. - Drop Everything And Read Website
3. Reading Rockets Video Interview
4. Beverly Cleary Scholastic Biography Page
5. Mouse and the Motorcycle, Excerpt from 1987 Movie - YouTube
6. Runaway Ralph, Excerpt from 1988 Movie - YouTube
7. Ralph S. Mouse, Excerpt from 1990 Movie - YouTube
8. Dear Mr. Henshaw Lessons from Happy Birthday Author - Comprehension Questions, Visual Supports, 10 Questions from Boyd Henshaw
9. Library Checklist for Beverly Cleary from Happy Birthday Author
10. Ramona and Beezus Movie Website - Coming July 23, 2010
Ramona And Beezus Trailer