Elizabeth Entenman
March 27, 2016 8:59 am

Chances are that as a kid, Beverly Cleary occupied some serious space on your bookshelf. The author has written her way into the hearts of many generations with lovable characters like Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and Ramona’s older sister Beezus. And next month, Cleary is celebrating her 100th birthday.

Cleary sat down with Jenna Bush Hager for a cheery Today Show segment filled with laughs, smiles and memories. We learned a lot about her and how she got into writing. Though she’s now a celebrated author who has published over 40 books, Cleary didn’t learn to read until the second grade. And once she did, she wasn’t interested in the books that were available to her.

“So many books in those days, back in the 1920s, had been published in England. And children had nannies and pony carts and they seemed like a bunch of sissies to me,” Cleary says with a laugh during their interview.

Cleary became a school librarian, and found that the same thing was true: Kids weren’t relating to the books on the shelves. So she decided to write her own, and the rest is history. What is she most proud of? “The fact that children love my books,” she said humbly.

Watch the entire interview below!