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Judy Blume on Banned Books and Getting Kids to Read

Author Judy Blume has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of young readers with beloved characters like Peter Hatcher and his hilariously annoying little brother Fudge. The acclaimed author has also tackled weightier subjects like family tragedy and budding sexuality in YA novels such as Tiger Eyes and Forever. Because of her popularity, and the honesty with which she approaches her work, it should come as no surprise that several of her titles have banned at various schools and libraries. Blume, who is staunchly opposed to censorship, recently appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to discuss her experience with challenged books and why she thinks every child should be free to read whatever he or she chooses.

On censorship: “It hasn’t gone away. It’s growing in different directions … It’s contagious, the desire to control everything in your children’s lives, including what they read.

“When I started to write, it was the ’70s, and throughout that decade, we didn’t have any problems with book challenges or censorship. It all started really in a big way in 1980 … It came with the election, the presidential election of 1980, and the next day, I’ve been told, the censors were crawling out of the woodwork and challenging, like, ‘It’s our turn now, and we’re going to say what we don’t want our children to read.’

“But I think it’s more than that. It’s what we don’t want our children to know, what we don’t want to talk to our children about; and if they read it, they’ll know it, or they’ll question it,” Blume explains.

The author also advises parents not to push books they loved as kids on to their own children. “I’m saying to parents these days, ‘Be careful.’ You know, you all want them to read the books that you read when you were growing up — often my books — and I say you will turn them off. The best thing to do is leave the books around the house and from time to time say, ‘I really don’t think you’re ready for that book.’ ”

To learn more about Judy Blume visit her official website www.judyblume.com or follow her on Twitter @judyblume

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