This Week in History


Author Judy Blume received lifetime achievement award

January 22, 1996
Blume, Judy - still image [media]
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Judy Blume's ability to write from the perspective of her youthful readers has guaranteed her status as one of American children's most popular authors, while simultaneously making her the target of—and a defender against—censorship.

Photographer: Sigrid Estrada; Institution: Judy Blume

When the top awards in children's publishing were announced on January 22, 1996, the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature for Young Adults went to Judy Blume in recognition of lifetime achievement in the field. Blume is the author of Blubber, Then Again Maybe I Won't, and Superfudge. While recognizing Blume's full body of work, the award made special mention of Forever, perhaps Blume's most controversial work.

Born in 1938 and raised in New Jersey, Blume published her first book in 1969. The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, a picture book, was soon followed by the books for adolescents that have made Blume famous. In such classics as Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), Deenie (1973), Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (1977), and Just as Long as We're Together (1987), Blume addresses issues such as divorce, friendship, death and loss, and teenage sexual development.

Because of the frank way in which Blume deals with sexuality, her books have often been banned from school and public libraries. In 2004, the American Library Association called her the "second-most censored author of the past 15 years." Forever (1975), which Blume says she wrote when her daughter asked for "a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die," has been a particular target of censors. The book, which features the teenage protagonists' trip to Planned Parenthood, came in eighth on the ALA's list of most-banned books of the 1990s. Four other Blume titles also made the top 100.

Despite challenges from would-be book banners, Blume has enjoyed tremendous success as an author. Together, her books have sold 75 million copies worldwide. In addition to her 20 books for children and young adults, Blume is the author of three novels for adults, of which the most recent is Summer Sisters (1998). She is also the founder of The Kids Fund, which encourages parent-child communication through books.

To learn more about Judy Blume, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Children's Literature in the United States; Judith: Part of the Hanukkah Story; On NPR's "Talk of the Nation" and Highlighted Judiths.

Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 160-161;; New York Times, January 23, 1996.

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