Today marks Day Five of Banned Books Week, and how could we possibly come close to finishing out the week without commenting on one of the most well-loved and most-challenged author for several decades running: Judy Blume.
If you were ever a child (and isn’t that every one of us), then Judy Blume’s name is at least familiar to you. She wrote the books that helped many of us get through adolescence. She was the adult in our lives who told us that our experiences were normal! She told us about the facts of life, and she told them to us straight. And we appreciated and loved her for it. But, for her efforts, she’s been one of the most challenged authors ever.
My childhood would not have been complete without many of Blume’s books. She was part of the “village” that raised me. Among my favorites were:
- Are You there God? It’s Me, Margaret: One of the best books to cover that confusing time when a girl leaves behind childhood and takes her first steps toward womanhood. Blume’s address of menstruation and buying that first bra took away some of the embarrassment that an 11-year old me felt at the time.
- Blubber: Long before it became social taboo to bully kids, Judy Blume was tackling this topic in her books. She made it clear that it wasn’t acceptable, and allowed those readers who’d been bullied an opportunity to finally gain some self esteem and come out on top!
- Forever: Truly the first romance novel I ever read, Forever tells the story of young love and first experiences. Sure, it explores sex from a teenage perspective, but can you honestly say that — as a teen — you weren’t curious about sex and, in many cases, too embarrassed to discuss it with your parents? Blume takes the agony out of the wanting to know. It’s beautifully written and remains one of my favorites to this day.
These are only a few of the many issues Blume has tackled that has made her the target of not only would-be book banners, but real-life bullies! Yes, bullies! According to an article in The Guardian, some people weren’t happy with simply banning Blume’s books. Some people went so far as to make personal threats to her safety. The Guardian quotes Blume as saying:
“I went to a couple of places two years ago and I got seven hundred and something hate-mail warnings – ‘We know where you are going to be and we’ll be there waiting for you’, that sort of thing,” says Blume. “My publisher sent me with a bodyguard. He was wonderful, I loved knowing he was there. And nothing happened and probably nothing would have happened, but it was very scary.”
The Guardian’s article was dated July of 2014! That means that as late as just last year, people in the United States not only wanted to ban her books, but wished to do her personal harm! Wow! How’s that for living in the Home of the Free?
I’m now 45 and owe a good bit of my love for reading to Judy Blume. I also owe more than a small part of my own self-esteem to her as well. To Judy Blume, I bow down low and say, simply, THANK YOU!