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Author Judy Blume’s Censorship Began With Her Children’s School Principal

 

By Mary Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Author Judy
Blume said she felt “very excited” when she finished writing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret back
in 1970.
She said she wanted to give a few copies to
the library at the school her children attended.
But the principal said no.
In the book, the main character, Margaret,
gets her period, and the principal thought menstruation was an inappropriate topic
for his primary school’s library.
“It never occurred to me that that could
happen,” Blume said Thursday during t
his
year’s Clemens Lecture for the Mark Twain House & Museum.
In the years that followed, many school and
classroom libraries removed or chose not to get a number of her books.
According to the American Library Association,
four of Blume’s books – Forever, Blubber, Are You
There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
and Tiger Eyes
– were on a list of the 100 most frequently challenged books between 1990 and
1999 and from 2000 to 2009.
That some of her books have been banned is not
a deterrent for her, but rather a source of pride because so many great authors
have had their books banned, including Mark Twain, the pen name for writer Samuel
Clemens.
“It was a real thrill to be banned on the same
list as Mr. Clemens,” Blume said.
Twain’s classic, “Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn,” is frequently under fire, and appeared on the same censored lists
as Blume’s books.
“He questions authority,” Blume said about Twain’s
character, Huckleberry Finn. “This will get any book banned.”
Tracey Sondik of Bolton, Connecticut, is a
longtime fan of Blume and her work. One of the things she admires about Blume,
Sondik said, is her stance against censorship.
“Judy Blume’s work really parallels Mark
Twain’s work,” said Jeffrey Nichols, executive director of the Mark Twain
House. “There’s a kinship between the two.”
Blume said she’s today seeing a return
of the openness of 1970s culture.
“People are less afraid,” she said. “Less
afraid is good.”
Most of the time, said Blume, it wasn’t a
public library, but a school or classroom library that kept her work out.
Blume said that “out of fear, the books were
removed, often.”
Censored books are often popular ones, said
Blume.
“If you look at the books that are banned,
they’re the books that kids like,” said Blume, “and if kids like it, it must be
dangerous.”
Youth Journalism
International Junior Reporter Avery St. Germain contributed to this story.

See the rest of Youth Journalism International’s five-part package on Judy Blume’s visit to Hartford:
Author Judy Blume Tells Her Own Stories
Video: Writing Advice From Judy Blume
Longtime Judy Blume Fan Meets The Author
Generations Of Readers Love Judy Blume

1 Comment

  • "Are you there God" was the first Judy Blume novel that really spoke to me, and I appreciated that it addressed adolescent issues that other books avoided. And funnily enough, there are still schools that try to ban books that don't beat around the bush. I hope that young writers won't let themselves be deterred. Blume is a wonderful author and an inspiration.