Judy Blume’s Impact on Readers of all Ages

Judy Blume’s realistic fiction is just as relevant to readers today as it was in decades past.



In an undated photo, author Judy Blume signs books for fans.

Marie Trammell, Staff Writer

When I was young, I had the pleasure of reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume in fourth grade. I read a lot during that time in my life, however, there were very few books that were as memorable as that one was or as fond a memory. Interestingly enough, Blume writes books for all age groups ranging from seven to adult so at every stage of life, I have had a new book from her to read and relate.

Judy Blume is a female American author of children’s, young adult, and adult literature. She was born on February 12, 1938, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. When she was twenty-five years of age and raising children, she was inspired to fulfill her creative interests by taking a writing course at New York University. She began writing her first book, The One in the Middle Is The Green Kangaroo, in 1959. Her most notable books include Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Forever. She will be remembered for a long time because her books touched on censorship, diversity, and growing up.

To understand the legacy of Judy Blume, you should be aware of her relationship to censorship. Censorship occurs when books are prevented from being read because of content by being banned or challenged at school libraries and classrooms. For various reasons, books by Blume have been banned and challenged. One of Judy Blume’s books, Deenie, was banned and challenged throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s in many elementary schools due to its sexual content and undermining parental moral values according to Banned books: defending our freedom to read by Robert P. Doyle. Forever, a more graphic young adult novel about two high school students who fall in love, was banned and challenged in junior and senior high schools for similar reasons. 

Censorship is an important news issue in Virginia following the recent governor’s race. The books schools assign their students or make available to their students in libraries often have heavy, mature content. Newly elected Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin supports more parental involvement in the public school curriculum and library book selection. Critics of Youngkin and those who support free access to books worry that this will silence authors from telling the world important messages through their stories. They believe banning books shields children and teenagers from educating themselves on important issues.

Blume has been a vocal opponent of book banning and restricting children’s access to books. In one famous quote she said that parents should “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.” 

Judy Blume books are especially valuable to her young readers due to their strong messages about growing up. According to the Educational Books and Media Association, “Blume’s style of writing is filled with humor, relatability, and sometimes very graphic depictions of issues concerning young children and teenagers such as sexual development and puberty.”

Personally, I love how her books relate to her own personal experiences. Her book Wifey was written for adults after she left her first marriage. It was about a woman who had a lot of doubts about her life as a traditional wife and gave into her temptations regarding sexual desire and fantasies. 

I have also noticed that she writes about her Jewish heritage in many of her books. For example, in her book Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret, the main character struggles with determining to which religion she belongs since her mother is a Christian and her father is a Jew. Deenie also mentions Judaism through a reference to kosher meat. Judaism was obviously a central part of Blume’s life so it made sense to talk about it in her books. 

Growing up through any stage of life, as a young child, teenager, or adult, can be very difficult, and Judy Blume reflects that in her writing. Blume’s books encompass people from all ages and walks of life. She once stated, “The best books come from someplace deep inside…. Become emotionally involved. If you don’t care about your characters, your readers won’t either.” This means Blume writes books that she wants to write whether the character is a thirteen year-old boy or a middle aged woman. This diversity of protagonists shows her writing ability and range as an author. 

Effective Blume books that touch upon this versatility are  Fudge-a-mania and Then Again Maybe I Won’t. Fudge-a-mania is a book about a boy named Peter who goes on vacation with his family and his arch nemesis Sheila. It’s funny and family-friendly. I enjoyed it because it takes relatable parts of our childhoods and adds humor to them. I’m also loving Then Again Maybe I Won’t because it talks about taboo topics regarding adolescent boys that authors normally don’t write about such as sexuality and how money can affect a family. 

 Readers of all ages can enjoy Judy Blume’s books. Her books have stood the test of time as realistic fiction because of the humor and seriousness she uses to depict real life struggles. Her writing comes from the heart, and it is very likely that she will be remembered for years and years to come.