By Neena Strichart
I love to read and always have. I remember the little shelf unit in the bedroom of my youth being chock full of books ranging from the full set of “My Book House” to picture books of nursery rhymes and Bambi, as well as books sent to me from New York by my half-brother Andy-at that time he was senior editor of Simon and Schuster. As I grew, I spent lots of time at the library within the walls of my alma mater, Signal Hill Elementary School, or the city’s public library. I loved reading biographies or books about what I might want to do when I grew up. I was especially fond of a book about airline “hostesses.” I thought it sounded like such a glamorous occupation. When I just couldn’t decide what book to take home, our librarian, Mrs. Brady, would steer me to the titles written by Beverly Cleary. I loved those books.
Being an only child, I got such a kick out of reading about other kids, their interactions with siblings and the adventures they were having. I was so fond of the stories about the kids on Klickitat Street-Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, Beezus and Ramona, Otis Spofford and the rest of the gang.
When I was recently contacted by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation regarding the opportunity to print one of Beverly Cleary’s books in our paper, I jumped at the chance. Looking into the details, I discovered the offering was in conjunction with national Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day. For our commitment, we had to promise to run all 16 chapters of the delightful book “Ramona the Pest”-one a week for 16 weeks. I quickly called my friend and fellow baby-boomer Kathy Berry at Long Beach Community Hospital to see if she thought the hospital would like to sponsor the Cleary feature. She gave an immediate and enthusiastic “yes”-remembering the books from her childhood.
We started the feature in our last issue and will continue weekly through June 5. This week’s chapter is printed on page 14. Read it for yourself, or to your kids, grandkids, neighbor kids or significant other. It’s a sweet story that just might take you back to your first days of kindergarten. Enjoy-and thanks, Kathy and Community Hospital, for helping us share this feature with our readers.
By Neena Strichart