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Judy Blume has never been afraid to speak her mind

Judy Blume, author of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," poses for a portrait at Books and Books, her non-profit bookstore in Key West, Florida.
Mary Martin
/
AP
Judy Blume, author of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," poses for a portrait at Books and Books, her non-profit bookstore in Key West, Florida.

The iconic children's author has been tackling criticism and censorship long before the current trend sweeping American libraries.

Who is she? Judy Blume is an acclaimed author, best known for her fiction that appeals to young adults and adolescents.

  • Blume's books tackled subjects like friendship, masturbation, menstruation, sex, bras and other topics that were still considered taboo at the time, and faced calls for censorship.   
  • Her career has spanned nearly 25 books for a wide range of audiences and covering a breadth of topics. Some notable titles include Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. 
  • What's the big deal? While 85-year-old Blume has mastered the art of crafting fictional stories, her latest project dives into her own life and career.

  • Judy Blume Forever, directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok, focuses on the impact Blume's work has had on thousands of people, centering on the many letters she received from readers expressing how their lives had been touched by her work. 
  • Blume has been a household name since the 70s, and her commentary on popular culture continues to be as relevant today as ever. 
  • She recently clarified a statement made in an interview with The Sunday Times of London where she expressed support for fellow author J.K. Rowling, who has vocally expressed transphobic views over the past years. 
  • In her statement, Blume said she "vehemently disagree[s] with anyone who does not support equality and acceptance for LGBTQIA+ people." 
  • In a recent interview with Variety, Blume spoke against the ever-present trend of books being banned for students and children due to subject material, like books relating to sexuality or gender expression. 
  • What are people saying? Blume recently spoke with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly about the project and how she got on board.

    On her initial hesitation to making the film:

    [Since] it's about me, I didn't think I wanted that. 

    I didn't think at all about the audience. I was just thinking, 'Did I want to do this?' And I just didn't want to do it. But Davina helped me understand it would be a good thing to do. And then I started to think it would be a good thing to do while I'm still alive and can participate. 


    Want to learn more about book bans in America? Listen to Consider This on how authors of banned books are fed up - and fighting back.


    On feeling fearless in writing in a way she didn't feel in her own life:

    I'm not a particularly brave person. Certainly, as a kid, I was a very anxious person. But when I sat down to write, I never felt afraid. I never felt fearful of anything that I was writing. I'm trying to catch up now in my real life. 

    On bravery as an everyday practice:

    I'm not afraid to speak out now, but I wasn't afraid to speak out in the '80s either, because that's what saved me in the '80s when I felt so alone and dejected and people were coming after me and coming after my books. And it was when I met the National Coalition Against Censorship that I realized I wasn't alone, and then other authors who were also in the same position that I was, and we would go out together. And we would speak out, because speaking out is so much better for you in every way than hiding at home.  

    And her thoughts on 'protecting children' in a recent interview with Variety:

    What are you protecting your children from? Protecting your children means educating them and arming them with knowledge, and reading and supporting what they want to read. No child is going to become transgender or gay or lesbian because they read a book. It's not going to happen. They may say, 'Oh, this is just like me. This is what I'm feeling and thinking about.' 

    So what now?

  •  Judy Blume Forever is available to stream on Amazon Prime. 
  • Book bans in Republican-led states like Floridaand Texas continue to intensify. 
  • Learn more:

  • Plot twist: Activists skirt book bans with guerrilla giveaways and pop-up libraries
  • Our favorite Judy Blume books
  • Scholastic wanted to license her children's book — if she cut a part about 'racism'
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Manuela López Restrepo
    Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.