The adjustment from living in the country to the city was troubling for Cleary, and she struggled in school; in first grade, her teacher placed her in a group for struggling readers. Cleary said, "The first grade was separated into three reading groups—Bluebirds, Redbirds, and Blackbirds. I was a Blackbird. To be a Blackbird was to be disgraced. I wanted to read, but somehow could not. " With the help of a school librarian who introduced her to books she enjoyed, Cleary caught up by third grade and started to spend a lot of time reading and at the library. By sixth grade, a teacher suggested that Cleary should become a children's writer based on essays she had written for class assignments. Cleary graduated from Grant High School in Portland.
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