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 (31)
  • 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.

  • vbeni-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.

  • 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.

  • briannaf-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:40 a.m.

    A writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because if she is writing an adult book she might not want a 11-12 reading that book because that is a little to old for the 11-12 year old age group the adult book should be placed in the "young adult" age group or just the regular books for adult. But the book she wrote was for ages up to 12 because it was something that they would be going threw.

  • leilam-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:41 a.m.

    Why a writer might prefer to write for a particular age group is because that's the style of difficulty that the writer wishes to stick to. Maybe the writer has a hard time writing so they stick to an easier level. Also the writer could just like the time period of a kid and all of the children's books' she's read, she could have also realised that a lot of children's books are getting popular by the day so she could get a lot of publicity from writing children's books'.

  • alexar-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:41 a.m.

    A writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because if the author grew up in a certain time frame like Pearl Harbor, they might want to write about it to tell the story to other people that didn't live through it. Also writers can write advanced books for older people that younger kids might not understand. The vocabulary could be advanced or just the story in general.

  • brookg-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:43 a.m.

    A writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because they enjoy the type of genre or age group they write in. They also,might like fiction, fantasy, autobiography, etc. In addition, they also, might like the theme of the book or topic.

  • nicolea-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:44 a.m.

    It would prefer for a writer to write in a particular age group because if they start writing in a small age then they can totally make mistakes in their writing. But, mostly they can do whatever they want but I prefer to start in the age 20 so you won't be too young to start writing. Also this will give you more time to think what you can right and not when you're beginning the writing you're thinking what you should do to write a story and not just sitting thinking for a thought.

  • jackl1-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:46 a.m.

    a writer might prefer to write for a particular age group because they might know more about the age group then they know about other age group. They might also have a story that only a age group can relate to

  • michaelp-pol
    10/11/2016 - 08:47 a.m.

    A writer may prefer to write for a particular age group because they may have an experience that is easy to right about themselves or can relate to something in the present from the past.

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