I haven’t needed Judy Blume in a long time. Not since I wanted to know…well…about stuff that Judy wrote about. In fact, I was just Facebook messaging with my bestie from fifth grade, Amy, and reminiscing about our fun times, one of which involved reading Forever and talking about the love scenes.
Now that I have my own Young Adult book coming out, I find myself thinking about Judy again. I have been wondering about her and how her books were received back in the seventies. This is not because I think my book will be as good as Judy’s were. Good God no! Nor do I expect wild fame and success like she had. If only right? No, I have been thinking about Judy because I’ve been on the receiving end of a few vague, disapproving questions about my writing. People wondering if my book is going to be racy? Wondering if that’s going to be weird, and if that’s somehow inappropriate because of my roles as a teacher and mother? Hmm, I wonder… Maybe it is. Maybe I should have shut myself down and never taken up the pen again. In fact, disapproval was one of the things that shut me down the first time so maybe I should have stuck with that plan. It’s too late now though. The book is in its final stages, taking shape as we speak out there in bookland. Eek! I’m beyond the point of no return.
So I visited Judy’s site. I remembered that she wrote some of her books at the request of her daughter who wanted more realistic Young Adult stories. And when I went there, I was so very pleased to find a whole tab devoted to censorship! Imagine that! I clicked and it was like it was written just for me. Judy still knew just what I wanted and needed to hear in this new time of self doubt and wonder. I think the part that touched me the most was the following:
“Ideas. Censors don’t want children exposed to ideas different from their own. If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty. I wish the censors could read the letters kids write.
I don’t know where I stand in the world. I don’t know who I am.
That’s why I read, to find myself.
Elizabeth, age 13
But it’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”