The Power - Banned Books Blog 2015
by Erica Berman
Author of The Power
Miss Abbott told us since we were in sixth grade and very grown up, there were certain subjects we would cover during the school year. "Certain very private subjects just for girls." That was all she said but I got the idea. Why do they wait until sixth grade when you already know everything!
- Judy Blume, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."
Between 1990 and 2000:
• 71% of books challenged were to materials found in schools or school libraries
• 60% of challenges were brought by parents.
• The vast majority of those books were banned due to "sexually explicit" material.
- Schools and Censorship: Banned Books, People for the American Way
When we talk about banning books, we are mostly talking about parents who don't want their kids to read books about their changing bodies and new desires. And there is no author whose voice on these subjects is as pervasive or as sharp as that of Judy Blume. Generations of young girls have read Blume's books under their covers by flashlight (or perhaps on a Kindle now?) and giggled with their girlfriends about words like period, breasts, and (gasp!) sex. No wonder Judy Blume is easily one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century.
In our culture, talking to our children about their bodies is uncomfortable. Is there a word that evokes as much discomfort or as many awkward memories as the word puberty? And yet it's a human condition that we all must endure. Parents can't stop these changes from occurring (although they may try) but they can attempt to control information that is probably already disseminating.
Being an 11 year old girl is not easy – as Margaret of Blume's eponymous novel would agree! I wish that more adults would use their imagination to travel back in time to that moment in their lives and consider what kind of support or information they wished they'd had. If more parents could use empathy instead of fear, I think less books would be challenged or banned and more Judy Blume books would be in the hands of those who need them most.