Starting on March 21, Random House Children's Books will release e-book versions of 10 of Judy Blume’s books for young readers. The list of works includes the wildly popular "Are You There God?, It's Me, Margaret"; "Blubber"; "Iggie's House"; and "Here's to You, Rachel Robinson." Some of Blume's backlisted titles, including "Superfudge," "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great," and "Double Fudge," were made available as Kindle editions as early as May 2008. Blume's bestselling novels for adults – "Summer Sisters," "Smart Women," and "Wifey" – have likewise been available to download for quite some time.
Millions of children have appreciated Judy Blume's insight on such topics as friendship, bullies, sex, and divorce, and continue to cherish her works as adults. In the heartwarming anthology "Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume," a group of distinguished female writers for young adults, including Jennifer O’Connell, Megan McCafferty, and Meg Cabot, writes about how Blume's books left an indelible impression on their lives. One contributor reflects: "To [Blume] I owe not only the intangible imprint that surely paints my own craft but something even more dear: my health, my self-respect, and my confidence in my own imagination and intelligence."
Despite their popularity with teens and pre-teens, Blume’s books are regularly targeted by book banning campaigns. (Among the words of Blume that some parents and educators have considered too provocative for young readers are sentences like the one that opens "Forever": “Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys.”) Since the 1980s, Blume has worked with the National Coalition Against Censorship to promote intellectual freedom, and she is the editor of "Places I Never Meant To Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers." In the introduction to the work, Blume writes, "In this age of censorship I mourn the loss of books that will never be written, I mourn the voices that will be silenced – writers' voices, teachers' voices, students' voices – and all because of fear."
"Places I Never Meant To Be" was published in 1999. In the first few pages, Blume recalls a time when she capitulated to an editor who wanted to excise some sexually suggestive lines in one of her works. "We want this book to reach as many readers as possible, don't we?" he had asked. Today, Blume says, such censorship is less likely to occur.
In a statement about the e-book release of her works, Blume said, “This is an exciting day for me. I’m happy that my readers, many of whom have been patiently waiting, will now be able to choose which format works best for them to enjoy their favorite books.” Beverly Horowitz, VP & Publisher of Bantam Dell Books for Young Readers, expressed similar approval about the books being more widely available: "Judy Blume’s voice has universal appeal. Her honest and witty books will continue to encourage reading, with an expanding reach in this format."
Rhoda Feng is a Monitor contributor.