Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Controversy and Censorship

Judy Blume

Lesson time 11:53 min

Judy remains one of the most banned authors in the country, with books that are still challenged by censors. She shares her hard-earned belief that writers need to remain true to themselves and the truth of their stories.

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Topics include: Margaret as Controversial • Find Your People • Keep Fighting • Be Brave and True


The first time it ever occurred to me that Margaret could be seen as controversial was when I gave three copies of the book to my children's elementary school. And the principal of the school, a man, decided that these books could not be on the shelf in the library of his school. Because in the book, Margaret gets her period and this was something that he considered beyond what a child should be allowed to read. Never mind how many girls in fifth and sixth grades already had their periods. That this could be considered controversial was-- I never really thought of it. I never thought I'm doing something really controversial when I was writing the book. Because I went into that determined to be honest. And that was such a part of my experience being in sixth grade. That the longing for, in my case, it was the longing for getting my period and being normal like the other girls. And I just wanted to share that, in a way, with my readers. I did get a phone call from a woman early on who asked me if I had written that book. And I proudly said yes I did, and she called me a communist and hung up. I mean, it's such odd, odd things. But it wasn't really until the 80s. Margaret was published in the early 70s, maybe 1970. I can't remember, 71. And the 70s was a very good decade for children's books, children's writers. A lot of us came along in the 70s writing, I think, books that we wanted to be honest and open. And because the 70s was a much more open and honest decade than what was coming in the 80s, this was good. And Richard Peck, and Norma Klein, and Paula Dan Sager. And so many of my- the writers who became my contemporaries. We all started out together in the 70s. And it was a good time for us. It was a good time because editors were willing to take chances on new writers. And it was a good time for the kids. My kids for instance, who were growing up then. I brought them home the most wonderful books. And those books, I think, meant a lot to them as they were coming of age. Books about real life, real people, real feelings. The things that were inside them. And they just both loved to read, I think, because they had these books. [THEME MUSIC] In the 80s, along with the presidential election. It was Reagan. The next day the censors came out of the woodwork. You know, we are going to demand that these books be challenged and removed. We don't want our children to read these books, therefore, no children should be allowed to read these books. That was the attitude. That's what happened. The American Library Association, the calls that they got to challenge books quadrupled, I think, almost overnight. And we got into a period where, forgive me for using that word, where our books were challenged. Sometimes banned from schools or school libraries. Not public libraries. Not bookstores. ...

About the Instructor

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

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Judy Blume

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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