Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
A sixth grade writing assignment connects Leigh Botts with his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. In his letters to Mr. Henshaw, Leigh opens up about his parents’ divorce, his feelings toward his father, and the struggles he has at his new school. Mr. Henshaw suggests Leigh keep a diary. Leigh takes him up on it and begins every entry with Dear Mr. Henshaw.
Beverly Cleary adeptly addresses issues young people face with respect and validation. Leigh’s life doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending, but rather a realistic one in which a young man learns to accept life’s challenges with courage and hope.
I highly recommend Dear Mr. Henshaw for elementary and middle school readers. The emotional elements of the story may impact some students significantly, so I suggest a parent or teacher give opportunity for reflection. Many classrooms have used this book to introduce journaling to their students.
Dear Mr. Henshaw received a Newberry Medal in 1984.
Cleary, Beverly. Dear Mr. Henshaw. HarperCollins, 2000.