Banned Books Week: Are You There, Judy? It’s Me, Melissa.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite books (and authors) that have been challenged in schools and libraries because of content or appropriateness.

Badge courtesy of EpicReads.com

Today is the last in our series of posts for Banned Books Week. I was very fortunate that, during my formative years, my reading choices were not censored in any way. I didn’t even know that such things as the challenging of books existed, except as a plot for a television show, and even those were few and far between. And like much of what I saw on TV, I assumed those stories were exaggerated for effect.

My parents let me read whatever I wanted. My trips to the library were made solo and I chose from both sides of the library – Children’s and Adult. I’m sure the library staff were amused by this tweenager who was checking out the 3rd book in the Mary Poppins series, Forever by Judy Blume, and kitchen/bathroom decorating books for the umpteenth time. But they were ever the professionals and said nothing to me, just wrote my library card number and due date down on the card from the book’s pocket and I was on my way. (Shout out to the Springdale Free Public Library!)

A huge part of my reading repertoire from those years was Judy Blume. I worked my way through Superfudge, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Freckle Juice, Blubber, Deenie, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, and of course the quintessential girls coming-of-age Blume novel – Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. I found all of these books relatable and thought-provoking. I saw myself in a part of each of these stories. They made me feel I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t a freak who was fundamentally different from everyone else. These books made me feel normal. And isn’t that all any pre-teen wants?

Of course dealing with topics such as sex, religion, menstruation, and masturbation will land authors on some people’s “naughty” list. Judy Blume is a shining example. She is continually one of the most challenged authors. Five of her books made the top 100 challenged books for the decade 1990-1999 and even with thousands of new books being published each year, four of her books are still on the top 100 list for 2000-2009. She must be doing something right!

So at the end of Banned Books Week 2012, I leave you with these suggestions:

  • Parents, read what your kids are reading and try to understand it from their point of view, not yours, and then talk to them about it. What they need from and get out of a book may be completely different than what you think they do.
  • Teachers, keep assigning those great books, despite the critics you might have to face.
  • Kids and teens, read whatever you can get your hands on. Your brain will sort it all out later.

-Melissa M.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Banned Books Week: Are You There, Judy? It’s Me, Melissa.

  1. Maria

    Hooray for Judy Blume! And my parents also let me read whatever I wanted. :)

  2. Sarah Louise

    So much of the “questionable” stuff in Deenie just went straight over my head. Kids skip stuff they don’t understand. It’s one thing that parents and teachers need to remember.

    • Melissa

      Maria – Yay for parents who “get it”!
      Sarah Louise – I agree. Kids absorb what they can at their level when they read.

  3. Children’s author Donna Jo Napoli talked about books like this in her very lovely TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j2oom5Y3tc :)

  4. Pingback: Banned Books Week: Still time to read « Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

  5. Judy Blume rocks. I can’t imagine growing up without her. And, I agree wholeheartedly. Read whatever you want so long as you read!

  6. My parents didn’t hold me back from reading anything that I wanted, and I think that’s why I still love reading today. So of what I read would have been considered ban-able, but I’m glad I wasn’t restricted.

  7. Joelle

    Your post could have been written by me, because this was almost my exact experience as well! Eerie – well, maybe not so much, being that I turned out to be a librarian as well. I credit my tween library experiences as what landed me here in my adulthood.

    I gave “Are you there God..” to a 12 year old girl as a present a while back. I saw her 1 year later and she was going on and on about how much she loved it. (:

  8. Pingback: Teens: Stand Up For Banned & Challenged Books At Steppenwolf Theater - Chicagotalks

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