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. Blume 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. 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. 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 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 (38)
  • andrewt1-pav
    9/16/2016 - 10:43 a.m.

    I think that she has every right to wright what she wants because if you ban a book for twelve year olds then you are saying it is good for teens and adults. So, really she shouldn't be criticized for writing the books she writes.

  • zbrow-wim
    9/16/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    A writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because of how they want readers to perceive the story. Judy Blume said "I like the 12-and-under set." Judy Blume likes to share embarrassing and life events that have happened throughout her life. She likes to give advice to young readers that are going through some stuff and don't have anyone to talk to about it. I feel Judy's advice is more directed towards girls. Judy wants to feel like the adult, helping other children by giving them advice. That is how she wants the readers to think of her when someone mentions her name.

  • jacobs-rhi
    9/28/2016 - 08:44 a.m.

    So that the people he writes for will like it. I like fried chicken. Chicken is good. Somebody should write a book about fried chicken.That's a hard question; there are so many good books. 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. It led me to seek out and read other books.

  • dawsonb-rhi
    9/28/2016 - 08:48 a.m.

    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.)

  • bend-rhi
    9/28/2016 - 08:56 a.m.

    It is easier. They know what they are doing. It is fun.

  • austinh-rhi
    9/28/2016 - 08:58 a.m.

    So,other people won't criticize her.Because that's what she wants to do.Because she like to write books for a particular age group.

  • blakew-rhi
    9/29/2016 - 09:13 a.m.

    She should have the right to write what ever she wants. That is the right thing to do. She shouldn't be criticized

  • alexb-rhi
    9/29/2016 - 09:25 a.m.

    I think its because she remembers a ton of stuff from when she was that age so she wants to tell other people her story. She might want to tell other people so they don't make the same mistake as her. It could be easier for them to write about that.

  • hannahg-rhi
    9/29/2016 - 09:25 a.m.

    It is what she wants to do with her life. She shouldn't be criticize for doing what you want.Like in athletics, athletes get criticized a lot but you can't let that get you down or stop you.

  • christiand-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:39 a.m.


    Judy blume prefers writing for younger kids, But every author has a preference .
    A writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because it is in there interests. Changing your group is hard because that would also involve words that would be common and uncommon for the Age group.

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