You probably started reading Judy Blume when you were a young adult yourself. She’s shaped the childhoods of so many children and adults the world over.
What’s truly remarkable about Blume is that she started writing in 1959 and her books still have a massive impact on our culture even today.
How big of an impact? Her 29 books have sold more than 90 million copies in over 39 languages.
Of course, with popularity inevitably comes controversy. As a writer who helps children and young adults understand their bodies and the changes that come with age, her books have been some of the most banned, especially in recent years.
Her Early Writing Life
Blume started writing when her children were in preschool and she felt she needed to entertain herself as a homemaker.
She had always been a storyteller, just she had kept those stories inside her own head.
With an active imagination, she says that her characters often live with her long before she ever starts to write their stories down.
She published her first book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo in 1969 followed by Iggie’s House in 1970. It wasn’t until her release of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret was released in 1970 that Blume had her breakthrough best-seller. From then on, Blume became the leading voice in children’s fiction.
Controversies Lead to Action
While many of us probably have great memories of Blume’s books, there are some who feel like she’s too honest with issues like divorce, sexuality, puberty, and bullying.
Though relatable to younger readers, she’s faced censorship and controversy since the ‘80s. It was then that Blume joined the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to help teachers and librarians keep important books on the shelves for young readers.
As a former member of the Board for NCAC, she has helped them to protect authors and readers through her savvy and compassion.
Blume Keeps Leading the Conversation
Blume’s last book was published in 2015 and one for adults, though it follows 15-year-old Miri Ammerman.
While she hasn’t written as much lately, Blume started independent Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West where she still works. A non-profit neighborhood bookstore, Books & Books aims to further support arts in Key West.
Her breakout novel Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret was adapted into a movie (finally!) in 2023 with Rachel McAdams.
If you haven’t picked up a Blume book recently, maybe it’s time you relive your youth and dove back into her beautiful worlds.