I recently watched the Netflix show about author Judy Blume.
It’s like a an extended conversation where she talks of her books, family, struggles, characters, and everything else in her life and long career, as a literary icon.
If you’re unfamiliar with Judy Blume, here’s her WIKI BIO.
Talking to God. Feeling Less Than… Bullying…. So Much Going on…
As a young girl, I remember reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.
Did you read it?
It was released in 1970, and is still going strong today.
Reading it as a shy, young kid, was life changing.
Suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. Things like menstruation, bras, and boys were on the page. Wow.
Never before had I read anything about periods and body awareness.
These were things that weren’t talked about.
Even fifty years later, kids still have the same questions and insecurities.
While things are much more open today, and technology has made information easily accessible, the Blume books offer characters that are still real to the kids.
I remember fifth grade “sex-ed” (many years ago…) where the teacher talked about Olga Ovum (she had a pink hair bow), Sammy Sperm (yup… blue bow-tie), and “genes”. Huh?
I couldn’t understand why the teacher kept talking about (what I heard…) jeans. What did Levi’s have to do with babies. Ugh… so stupid.
I didn’t realize until years later, that if I had those questions and confusions, then so did someone else.
In Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret, Blume puts life experience and thought into a real life setting.
In this book, Margaret has free and open conversations with God on a regular basis. She’s voicing her questions, fears, and turmoil to God as she seeks truth and clarity.
Many of Blume’s books are for middle grade readers (age 8-12), that deal with the world and self discovery.
This is just a small sample of her many books.
Blubber deals with bullying, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, is about having to deal with a younger sibling who demands all the attention, and Freckle Juice, a book about a young boy who must learn to accept himself as he is.
These were, are, and will continue to be, huge issues for children and young people.
Along Came Blume’s Young Adult…. 🥰
I think over the years, I’ve managed to read most of her books. The one that truly revolutionized the book world was Forever.
While Blume had written young adult before, there was nothing as explicit and controversial as Forever.
It came out in 1975 and dealt with young love and sex.
It wasn’t one of those romances where a good girl falls in love and ends up punished by slut-shaming, pregnancy, or outraged parents who send her away.
The book deals with what is actually going on in the world with teens and sex.
The idea that young people can fall in love, have physical desires, and have a relationship is simply life. It happens. In this book, the young woman is allowed to have feelings too… Wow. What a concept.
In the Blume book Forever, she explored the normalcy of the girl wanting to have sex as much as the boy. Neither was vilified.
It questions the concept of forever and meaning of love. The story, imho, is one that plays out every day all over the world. It’s reality.
Forever wasn’t a book intended for middle-graders or young children.
It’s a book written about older teens–for older teens–, but the idea of teens having sex, and GASP😱, enjoying it, put this book front and centre immediately.
Oh, and so you know, YA (young adult) is not all about sex. It’s about teen issues.
Forever, is about the thoughts, the confusion, the questions, the uncertainty…
Think back to high school. What were you thinking about? What questions would you have asked if you had a person to ask?
SIDEBAR:(TELL ME!! Please… What questions did you have as a teen? comment below–for me it was boys (how do I get one when they don’t even realize I exist); fear of what was to happen after grad–scary stuff; and omg, does anyone else feel like they simply don’t fit in with the rest of the world? What’s wrong with me?
Teens aren’t children, but they’re not adults either. They have unique issues and needs and Judy Blume recognized that.
I write YA.
I read YA.
I ❤️ YA!
So Why All the Controversy?
Where there is good, of course, controversy can follow.
Many of Blume’s books have been banned, particularly in the United Sates, and it makes me not only sad, but also somewhat indignant that the agenda of some, affect all.
When I look to see why these books have been banned, it’s a myriad of reasons…. vulgarity, sexuality, language, for bullying, … the list goes on.
In her Netflix interview, Blume says that the word “bra” was deemed too controversial…
My other question with book bans then, is the context in which the themes of the book are presented.
IMHO, if you want to support the ban of children’s/middle-grade books, then read those books and carefully examined the content from cover to cover… not just looking at a scene or two, and definitely not simply supporting something because someone else says so.
I hope that makes sense.
Read, decipher, and decide. Perhaps they’re not for you or your family, and that’s okay.
I see Blume books as a perfect jumping off place for education, acceptance, and opportunity to discuss difficult subjects that are, and will continue to, affect the most vulnerable people in our communities.
If anyone thinks their kids don’t feel and think things that are the main subjects of these books, they’re fooling themselves.
Do You. That’s Fine, but Don’t Shame Others…
If you don’t want your kid reading these books, that’s your right.
If the menu has chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla and you deem the first two unacceptable for any reason, then go with vanilla–that’s fine–I request you not eradicate the other choices (that others may enjoy) simply because it is not your cup of tea.
Don’t take it upon yourself to keep choice and the right to be, away from anyone else. It’s not your job to parent the world.
Im not here to fight or try and change anyone’s mind in the way they chose to live there lives… so don’t try and change mine either, and don’t tell me what I can or can’t read.
Phew. That’s my opinion of course. As I say… Do You.
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4 thoughts on “Judy Blume: Controversy and Banned Books. What Do You Think?”
I completely agree with you! I read an interesting take on the whole book-banning thing:
People who want to ban books that they don’t want their teens to read are, in effect, offloading their parenting onto others (schools, libraries, etc.)
If you don’t want your teen reading the Strawberry Ice Cream book, for whatever reason, then fine. It’s YOUR JOB to make sure your kid understands your reasons and follows your rules when you’re not around. It’s not the school’s or library’s job to BAN the Strawberry Ice Cream book to prevent your kid reading it, when other parents want their kids to have access to that book.
Thanks Zena. I agree. If any parent thinks that banning a book is going to stop their teen from reading it, is fooling themselves. By banning it, they (the parent) doesn’t have to do anything… stupid. Sit down and talk to your kid. Ignorance begets ignorance. Imagine a grocery store where parents didn’t want their kids being exposed to sugar…
Sugar in the grocery store is a perfect analogy! I don’t like my kid eating pop tarts, so pop tarts should be banned! 😂
No pop tarts. Let’s ditch the ice cream! Heck, all cereal…gone!! Ban it all 😂