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Posts Tagged ‘Are You There’

Before I forget, I want to thank everyone who responded to the last post, “Mother, may I read this book?,” about the Central Florida mother who wanted to keep public library copies of the Gossip Girl books and spin-offs out of the hands of minors. Many of you thanked your own mothers for giving you the freedom to read and make up your own mind. Others suggested that sitting down and discussing the books might have been a more productive act than “stealing” them. One reader noted that she’s against banning books but did think Gossip Girl was pretty trashy.

And that reminded me that I should have given a shout-out to Judy Blume, the best-selling author of teen and tween books and also one of the most censored authors in the United States. In the 1980s and ’90s, such Blume books as Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever… were among the most frequently challenged books in schools and public libraries. Then came J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books, and the censors went wild over Harry in a bad way. Blume was one of the first to step up and speak out on behalf of Rowling and against censorship.

I remember writing about her speech to booksellers at their annual convention ten years ago. She noted that if kids didn’t love Harry Potter so much, the censors wouldn’t be out in such force. “It’s because they are so popular that there’s this idea there’s evil lurking in them,” she said, adding that this notion comes from “adults who want to control everything in kids’ lives,” especially what they read.

The book banners were againt Harry Potter because of its scenes of witchcraft and wizardry, moments of violence and “disrespect for authority,” as one censor stated. They went after Blume”s books  because she wrote candidly about having periods, growing breasts, making out and, in Forever…, going all the way. Sex!

That’s why some adults called Blume’s books “trashy.” But one parent also challenged Superfudge because a character said there wasn’t a Santa Claus. Any book can become a target for censors, and Blume added that no matter what you say, there are going to be people who will never change their minds.

“I tell them,   ‘This might not be the right book for your child, but it may be just the right one for another.’ ”

You said it, Judy. Thank you. And thanks for writing all those great books. I still read them. I guess the mom against Gossip Girl missed out.

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