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Friday, February 12, 2016

Because you have to, of course

“The best books come from someplace inside. You don't write because you want to, but because you have to.” – Judy Blume

Judy Blume is turning 78 today, but most of her characters and her writing remain forever young.  Her novels for teens have tackled sensitive topics and been a source of controversy, but there’s little doubt that they resonate with young people.  To date they have had sales closing in on 100 million copies and been translated into 32 languages – remarkable achievements.

She said she hopes that her stories have opened the doors to teens for a better understanding of themselves, the world around them, and issues that young people struggle with “growing up.”  Racism, divorce, bullying, sexuality, all have all been “on the table” for Blume’s characters. “Generating discussion,” she said, is her primary goal.

Along the way, she has been recognized as one of the world’s great “storytellers” who bring kids into the reading world.  “Any book that gets kids to read are books that we should cherish, we should be thankful for them,” she noted.                        

She has won more than 90 literary awards, including three lifetime achievement awards and the ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award, established to recognize one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to Young Adult literature.”

Blume said she dreamed of being lots of things as a girl, but never a writer.  She loved to read but didn’t picture herself as the person who would sit down and write the words that others would enjoy.  But, then she started thinking about things in her own life that made for interesting conversation and be interesting to others.  “I think people who write for kids, we have that ability to go back into our own lives."
As for what to let kids read, Blume has a simple response:  “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.”

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