On this day in 1938, best-selling author Judy Blume, known for her children’s books and young-adult novels, including “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” is born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Blume’s books have been beloved by several generations of readers; however, the explicit subject matter of some of her novels for adolescents has made them a target for censors.
Blume, born Judy Sussman, was raised in New Jersey and attended New York University, graduating in 1961 with a degree in teaching. She married while still a college student and had two children by the time she was in her mid-20s. In 1969, Blume published her first children’s book, “The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo.” More fiction for grade-school-age readers followed, including “Freckle Juice” (1971), “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” (1972), “Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great” (1972) and “Blubber” (1974). In 1970, Blume published the young-adult novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” She went on to write other novels for adolescents, including “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t” (1971), “Deenie” (1973) and “Forever” (1975). Blume’s books, which realistically address such topics as menstruation, bullying, divorce, sexuality, friendships, family and body image, gained legions of young fans; however, their content frequently led them to be banned by school libraries. After her work was the target of an organized book-banning campaign in the 1980s, Blume became an anti-censorship activist.
In addition to writing for young readers, Blume has penned novels for adults, including “Wifey” (1978), “Smart Women” (1983) and “Summer Sisters” (1998), all of which were best-sellers. To date, her books have sold over 80 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages.