Judy Blume Discusses Censorship

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The ABFE Art Auction to Benefit Free Speech in Children’s Books will honor Judy Blume on May 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt New York, this year’s Hotel ABA, located at 42nd Street and Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Proceeds support the American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) and its defense of free speech for kids, including the Kids’ Right to Read Project (co-sponsored by the National Coalition Against Censorship) and Banned Books Week, the only national celebration of the freedom to read.

Tickets are $105. ABA member booksellers pay $10, and bookseller members of the ABC Children’s Group at ABA are free. A special student ticket is also available for $25. Use this link to order tickets.

Bookselling This Week recently asked Blume to reflect on her career as an advocate for kids and an opponent of censorship. Here are her answers.

Were you surprised the first time one of your books was challenged?

Judy Blume: Yes, especially since the woman challenging the book called me a communist. Hmm... After that the challenges had to do with puberty. As if puberty was a dirty word.

Why did you decide to fight back?

JB: It always feels better to take a stand and once I discovered the NCAC [the National Coalition Against Censorship] I knew I had found my home and my voice.

Have we made progress in the fight against censorship?

JB: Yes, just look at today’s YAs!  I hope we’re heading back to a time when writers, editors, and publishers are willing to take risks in order to get the very best books to young readers. New writers need time to be nurtured and encouraged.

Do you think the challenges will ever stop?

JB: Probably not...With policies in place at schools and libraries it should be much harder to intimidate a teacher, librarian, or principal. That said, there’s always going to be a book that’s offensive to some group, or some person who believes if she doesn’t want her child to read a book, no child should be able to read that book.