Judy Blume speaks about her career and what it means to write a "Banned Book" Judy Blume at the LA Times Festival of Books. (AP Photo/Katy Winn/Kathy Willens, File)
Judy Blume speaks about her career and what it means to write a "Banned Book"
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For decades, adolescents have found a sympathetic voice in the books of Judy Blume, who has dealt unflinchingly with coming-of-age issues. She received the John P. McGovern Award from the Smithsonian Associates for her contributions to the American family, and she corresponded with the magazine's Jeff Campagna via e-mail.

What do you think it is about your writing that has made your books become such integral parts of so many people's childhoods?

I wish I knew (because) I'm grateful to my readers, who can probably answer this question better than I can. Someone just wrote to say that "Tiger Eyes," the movie we shot based on my book, is intimate in the same way that my books are. Maybe that's it, but thinking about this is dangerous for me . . . because I don't really understand it, which can lead to worrying that I'll never be able to do it again.
  
What are three things about you that would surprise us?

I'm phobic about thunderstorms (and) writing is incredibly hard for me. I'm not the world's best mother, though kids always assume I must be, and I love a good cupcake. (I know, that makes four things, but I'm hungry and wishing I had that cupcake.)
  
Name one book you wish you'd written and why?
 
That's a hard question, there are so many good books, (but) looking up at my bookshelves, I see Doris Lessing's "Martha Quest," a book that has stayed with me since I first read it. It took me to another time and place; it made me think, question (and) it led me to seek out and read other books. 
 
Do you plan which important life issue you will deal with in a book? 

I always have some idea of the story I'm about to tell. I knew Davey's father would die suddenly and violently in "Tiger Eyes" (and) I knew Rachel Robinson's brother Charles would disrupt the family in "Here's to You, Rachel Robinson."  With "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," I thought I was writing about organized religion, yet the book has become famous for dealing with puberty. Hardly anyone ever mentions religion or Margaret's very personal relationship with God. There's so much I don't know when I start writing a book. That's the best part of writing for me, the surprises along the way.
  
Which character from your books do you identify with the most?

Sally from "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself." It's my most autobiographical book, but I identify with all of my characters. A writer has to do so if she wants her readers to identify with them as well.
  
Four of your books are among the American Library Association's Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009. How do authors feel when they are added to this list?

I suspect many authors today are proud because those who challenge their books don't do so unless they aren't already popular, but when my books were first attacked in the early 1980s, there was no list and I felt no pride, only anger, sadness and a sense of isolation.
  
You've written for a wide range of ages. Have you developed a preference for a certain age group at this point? 

I like the 12-and-under set and also the adult voice, yet here I am writing a long, complicated novel from various viewpoints, all of them teenagers in the '50s. I think it has more to do with not repeating myself more than anything else; I need challenges in my work.
  
You've become an outspoken advocate for intellectual freedom.  

It feels much better speaking out. Finding the NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship) was a life-changing event. I realized I wasn't alone, which is funny, because that's what my readers often say to me.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might a writer prefer to write for particular age group?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (112)
  • irisp-ste
    9/19/2016 - 09:03 a.m.

    Authors may prefer to write for specific age groups since it interests them more. If an author enjoys writing children's stories for kids to enjoy around the globe, they they will typically pursue their goals and do what they like most.

  • parkerz-cel
    9/19/2016 - 09:06 a.m.

    A writer might prefer to write for a certain age group just for the fact that the other age groups might not know what that means. For example, an older aged women might prefer to write for a age group around the same age as her so that the reader can connect with the writer because they have more knowledge than the younger age group who hasn't lived as long as the writer. Times have changed so drastically that older people cannot understand younger people and vice versa.

  • jareds-cel
    9/19/2016 - 09:09 a.m.

    Writers might prefer to write for a different age group because of many reasons. One of them might be is that they have a personal relationship with that certain age group, maybe they have kids that age or something happened to the author during that point in their life. Also it may just be easier for an author to write about things from a kids perspective or the other way around it's all about the author's personal liking.

  • zakrym-ste
    9/19/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    She is such a sweet lady. I remember reading her books. She was one of my favorite.

  • monicas-ste
    9/20/2016 - 01:44 p.m.

    I loved her books. It was so fascinating to read about her. This is great

  • elizabethb1-pet
    9/24/2016 - 05:24 p.m.

    I think I identify most with the character Peter Hatcher from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. In this book series, Peter is frustrated because he has a younger brother named Fudge (Farley Drexl) whom Peter dislikes because Fudge always seems to mess things up for Peter. I can also understand the frustration of having a younger brother. Siblings also seem to want to do what you do, and that is mainly what Peter finds annoying. Peter also has trouble with school and a girl named Sheila. I also have problems with annoying people at school, though many times we handle things differently than Peter and Sheila do. In conclusion, I think that I identify most with Peter Hatcher from Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

  • mirandac-pet
    9/24/2016 - 05:33 p.m.

    I think i identify with Charlie Kelmeckis from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" the most. Like me, he just wants to pause his life, sit down, and watch the world. He understands what it is to not fit in. Charlie is a shy and caring person. He is extremely thoughtful and he loves classic books. Charlie's family is portrayed as somewhat dysfunctional yet very loving and strong at the same time. That's why i think he is a lot like me.

  • ellao-pet
    9/25/2016 - 08:17 p.m.

    I don't think people would react the way they did in the 1980's to her books because our society has become more liberal, or less conservative.

  • vivianr-pet
    9/26/2016 - 06:07 p.m.

    I personally have never read any of Judy Blume's books, so I cannot identify nor relate to any of the characters. Although, my mother has informed me about the book, "Are You There God? It's Me Margret." I do think that people would react the same if not worse. Because of the way that parents dealt with their children not wanting to grow up, while thinking that it should be the parents telling their children this, not an author. Today's culture is very different from the 80's, being more modest back then. People are not modest at all now that religion is not as important as it used to be. Therefore, people would've been acting more or less obliging the fact that Judy Blume's books are regarding helping young ladies proceed into the lives that they are building towards today.

  • lovejitp-pet
    9/26/2016 - 06:35 p.m.

    No I do not think that people would feel this way if those same books were published today. I would think that they people nowadays have a greater sense of reading than did back then. For example back when "The Giver" was published , everyone thought that book was not ment for children, but look now everyones reading it . This is why I think people won't think that her books are inappropriate because everyones's opinions are changing.

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