Banned books by Judy Blume: “Forever” and “Blubber”

I chose to end my book list with a few children’s/young adult novels. I had originally planned to read one that dealt with the topic of sex, which ties into my research of sex education, and another book that deals with the topic of health and body image. Unfortunately I had trouble getting a copy of my body image book so I had to pick another book, and couldn’t find one that dealt with this issue so I decided that my last two books would tie together and still with my theme of “What’s not taught in schools,” by being “banned” books.

Both of my last books were written by Judy Blume. I am sure many of you know who she is but here is some background information anyway. Judy Blume received her B.S. in Education from New York University. She serves on the board for the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Blume has also received many awards and recognitions throughout her career.

My first book is “Forever”. Forever is a book about teenagers Michael and Katherine who fall in love, have sex, and don’t end up punished for it. Michael and Katherine meet at a party and start a relationship after that. They become very close and responsibly intimate. Neither one of the teens is pressured into sex by the other, Michael carries condoms with him just in case, and Katherine decides to get The Pill. In the end Katherine doesn’t get pregnant, their lives aren’t ruined, neither of them dies.

The reason I explain that the teenagers in this book aren’t punished, is because that is the reason that this book was originally banned. Many books and other media back in the 70’s  and to this day that involve young unmarried people participating in sexual activities, also ended with both or one of the participant being punished in some way. Blume essentially argues in her book that it is possible to have sex and not have your life ruined. She doesn’t say that there is no chance of “punishment”, but she does indicate that punishment is not the only absolute outcome.

 My second book, also written by Blume, is called “Blubber”.  Blubber is book in which the narrator is a 5th grade girl named Jill. Jill is basically telling her story of how there is a fat girl named Linda who lets everyone bully her, including Jill, but most of all Wendy who is the meanest girl and controls the whole class. Throughout the book, Jill explains how she helps Wendy and their friends bully Linda, and thinks that she deserves it because she lets people walk all over her. Eventually the tables are turned and Linda befriends Wendy while she leads the class in bullying Jill. Jill fights back, and turns the bullies against each other, so she is no longer ganged up on. She doesn’t become friends with Linda and the bullies are never punished for what they have done.

One of the reasons this book was banned is because the bully is never punished. Adults did/do not like the idea of children reading a book in which the message is that bullies aren’t always punished, and things don’t always have a happy ending. Blume’s story Blubber, basically tells the actual story of how many bully situations really are; the bullied fears telling anyone of what is happening, and of fighting back, and the bully often doesn’t face consequences.

I think these books and the idea of banned/censored books ties into our schools being more oppressive than progressive. These books are both very honest towards the age group they are intended for. Unfortunately the truth or a truth is not always what we as adults want for our children because it scares us. But I don’t think that means we have the right to simply take it away from them. I think we should monitor our children’s maturity levels to determine at what time they can read books such as these and understand them and discuss them.

Both of these books are important to me because the topics they address are important for children to learn about and understand. They are also important because of the relation they have to censorship and banning of books. I think banning of books shouldn’t be allowed because it takes it away from everyone, when the author intended it for someone. I think parents needs to take more responsibility and screen the books their children read beforehand. I don’t think we should have the right to discard materials that may be inappropriate for one person’s child, but completely adequate for another child.

6 thoughts on “Banned books by Judy Blume: “Forever” and “Blubber”

  1. I love that you specifically address the censoring of books in the US. Despite the fact that most belive we live in a free society and that freedom of speech is considered sacred, we do not. Many times our government, both nationally and locally, ban items they deem as inappropriate because they think we as a society are easily led astray and do not have the ability to think for ourselves. I also love that your overall topic deals with things that are not taught in school because we are increasing becoming a society that are told don’t think for yourselves, just follow the status quo (which is why banning books occur more and more).

    I like that Blubber does not have the bullies punished because despite the recent trand against bullying, the fact is it continues, and those that do the bullying are usually not punished. Reality is harsh, but this is a harsh world, especially for those that are percieved as different.

  2. I loved Judy Blume as child because I felt her books were realistic. I’ve read Blubber but not Forever though that one is now of great interest to me. I can imagine the books were banned because those that did the banning thought it would influence unwed teenagers to have sex, I fell it might influence teenagers to be prepared to have sex (bc the truth is they may or may not have sex with or without influence). The idea that the male character carries condoms and the female character gets on the pill is pretty revolutionary at that time (and sometimes now) but might have empowered younger generations to think before they participate in sex, now that might of helped the people who suffer from the real life “punishments” of pregnancy or an STI/STD.

  3. I have distinct memories of buying Judy Blume books covertly at garage sales and reading them covertly in my closet (including the one she wrote for boys going through puberty. I was SO CONFUSED when the kid had a wet dream… that’s actually kind of hilarious, and I’m laughing in my kitchen as I write this… anyway). Ironically, I never got around to reading Forever (although it’s on my Goodreads).

    I did, however, read Blubber several times. I was kind of a chubby kid until 8th grade, and though I wasn’t teased relentlessly, I could definitely identify with the main character. I think the reason the book was banned is really bizarre–the bully didn’t get punished, but she did change significantly.

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