On what makes her proudest: "The fact that children love my books."

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 29, 2021
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No books touch our hearts quite the way Beverly Cleary's do. Ramona the Pest. Henry Huggins. Beezus and Ramona. Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The Mouse and the Motorcycle. As we all mourn the loss of this terrific author, who died at 104-years-old last week, there have been countless touching tributes to her life and legacy.

Jenna Bush Hager Hudson River Park Ungala
Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images for Friends of Hudson River Park

Today, we are looking back at Southern Living's editor-at-large and TODAY show co-host Jenna Bush Hager's interview with Cleary as she approached her 100th birthday in 2016. "Iconic children's author Beverly Cleary has enchanted kids for generations, creating beloved characters like Ramona Quimby, Ralph — that legendary mouse on the motorcycle — and Henry Huggins, her first, published in 1955," Jenna Bush Hager begins her voice-over. In the interview Cleary's spunk and wit shines through as Hager asks her what she's most proud of, what she makes of turning 100, and more, with chats with some of her kid readers and biggest grown-up fans such as Judy Blume interwoven throughout.

"Beverly Cleary introduced us to children like us—pest—kids who were seen and heard!! Imperfect, funny, kids who felt and loved and made us laugh. Reading Ramona to my girls delighted me—watching their faces fall in love with her words," Bush Hager captioned the video, which she shared on Instagram on Saturday, March 27. "Mrs. Cleary was charming and lovely and meeting her was an honor of a career. My favorite part of this story: is at the end when I asked her what she was looking forward to at 100. She said—at my age—you can guess. Thank you for everything Mrs. Cleary." Watch below, and brace yourself for a serious surge of emotion.

What's your favorite Beverly Cleary book? We're definitely temporarily putting down our "Read With Jenna" book to revisit Ramona the Brave.