12 - 2011

What did Beverly Cleary teach you about frugality?

Today, April 12, is Beverly Cleary’s birthday. She’s 95! Happy birthday, Ms. Cleary.

I keep seeing the previous post on this blog (30 Great Books That Teach Kids To Be Green), and thinking about Beverly Cleary’s books.

Remember Beverly Cleary’s books? Think back to your childhood … Beezus and Ramona, Henry, Ribsy, the Mouse and the Motorcycle, and even Dear Mr. Henshaw. If you want a refresher, there is of course a Beverly Cleary website.

But when it comes to frugality, I can think of several great messages in Beverly Cleary’s books:

  1. READ! Reading is frugal. Beverly Cleary’s birthday is also D.E.A.R. Day. If you don’t have an elementary schooler in your household … D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read.” Especially with the Internet, libraries, free online downloads (Wise Bread’s Deals newsletter lists one every day), thrift-store books and inexpensive online purchases, you can learn about everything under the sun by reading.
  2. Be realistic. If you turn on the Disney Channel, like most television, the stars live in ritzy houses in posh neighborhoods, wear designer clothes, and ride in brand-new cars. Beverly Cleary’s characters lived in the real world. The kids shared bedrooms, Ramona’s family only had one car, the babysitter lived in the neighborhood. Some parts of this scenario were more par for the course decades ago, when the books were written, but it’s still a good lesson to remember that many people even today just live normal lives. Keep up with THOSE Joneses instead of the wealthiest and you’ll stay saner.
  3. Work for a living. Ramona’s family has a day of reckoning when her dad loses his job — a glimpse into a world all too many folks have experienced in recent years. Henry gets a paper route. Everybody’s got to work for a living, and it’s good for kids to read about it.

What about you? Did you learn anything from Beverly Cleary’s books, or other favorites, about living frugal?

To learn a little bit about Beverly Cleary, check out this article in the New York Times Book Review. I for one am putting her memoirs on my reading list — they are sure to be entertaining reads.

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