Are You There Judy?…

Okay girls. 
I’ve got a question for you.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Ralph
If you just chuckled, blushed and reverted back to your 13 year old self, you must have been a big fan of Judy Blume books. 
Like most girls who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was obsessed. 
Starting with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great when I was in about second grade, I was hooked. I think I’d read every book she’d written by the time I was in sixth grade (and yes, that includes Forever, which was questionable and beyond shocking at that age, for sure, but remember, by age nine I’d already seen Grease).  
Judy Blume was my favorite and most influential teacher. Menstruation, divorce, race relations and discrimination, masturbation and sex — Judy Blume tackled them all, and in a time, unlike today, when all those issues weren’t acceptable, and common, dinner conversation. She helped raise an entire generation of pre-teen girls with her honest and heartfelt stories that became, in my case at least, constant companions and trusted textbooks for navigating the turbulent waters of adolescence. 
There wasn’t one Judy Blume book I didn’t like, from the obvious favorites like Are You There God… and Blubber (which to this day makes this girl who hates conflict uncomfortable — not to mention tape her mailbox shut every Halloween), to the not as obvious Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, which after reading and re-reading caused me to carry Sally around with me in my head for months.  My sister and I entertained ourselves during the long summer days in 1978 (pre-computers and cable TV) by acting out, in great detail, the plots from every Judy Blume book we’d read. I’m not kidding, it took us all summer. Iggie’s House was a challenge, and I’m pretty positive we skipped Forever, but we knew every word of those books, and brought them to life with a cast of two. 
A few days ago I read an article in Entertainment Weekly about Judy Blume, and about how she and her son are bringing Tiger Eyes to the big screen and OnDemand. It’s taken years of red tape and failed promises and creative differences to make happen, but they were finally able to do it their way and with ownership. And I’ve gotta admit, as much as I like a good movie adaptation of a favorite book and as happy as I am that they were able to make a movie they’re proud of, I haven’t decided if I’ll be watching. Not having all my favorite Blume stories ripped out of my head where they’ve lived for over 35 years and reconstructed on the movie or television screen is part of what has kept them sacred. Linda Fischer, Deenie, Sally — they’ve all looked the same in my imagination since I was 12, and I think I’d like to keep Davey, the protagonist of Tiger Eyes, that way, too. 
But regardless, I’m extremely happy that there’s a new generation of girls who’ll be led to Judy Blume books as a result of watching the movie. In a time when it seems young girls get much of their education via YouTube and reality shows, they could use a few honest lessons from Mrs. Blume. 
Last week we were going through a big box of old books with the Things and deciding what to keep and what to donate, and we came across my old copy of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, yellowed and dog-eared Thing 1 immediately grabbed it and shouted, “I LOVE this book!” and told Thing 2 she had to read it.
That book was published in 1970.
I’d say 43 years of popularity and relevance is a pretty good indication of a phenomenal teacher, wouldn’t you? 
What were your favorite Judy Blume books? 
Click this box if you read Forever…and hid it from your mom. 

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  • Anna Sandler - I also love Judy Blume, and an interview I heard when she explained her life “wasn’t all cupcakes.” She also said that she wrote a lot of her early books while her sons were at preschool, which makes me think in some small way us “mom bloggers” are connected to her, and maybe not *so* different.

    Here’s a link to the NPR interview:

  • Teri - LOVED Judy Blume, made 15 read AYTG,IMM just before her first monthly visit. Timed that perfectly. Have you read any of her more recent work? She wrote a book called Summer Sisters, which I absolutely fell in LOVE with when I read it.ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Yes! And yes! Loved SS, too. In fact, now that you mention it, that’d be a good one to re-read this summer.
      I think I’m “making” 12yo read a few that she hasn’t this summer (Blubber, Iggie’s House)….I say “make” but by the end of the first chapter she’ll be hooked.ReplyCancel

  • Joy Christi - I can’t remember names, except for Margaret, but I do remember in one book (Blubber maybe??) the kids were allowed to swear at home and I thought that was the COOLEST thing ever! My parents wouldn’t go for it, and now I get having a teenager, but I do let him swear in front of me if the little ones are not around, (and now he is old enough to know better than to do it at school, etc.)
    I can’t wait to read these again when my little girls get older!ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - I loved to live vicariously through all her characters!
      I read Blubber aloud to my (now) 17yo but don’t think I have read a JB book aloud to my 12yo since all the Fudge books when she was in 1st grade. Time to dust them off!ReplyCancel

  • Dyanne @ I Want Backsies - I read Are You There God… when I was about 12, which wasn’t long after it was written. My 14 year old daughter now loves that and all the others. I haven’t let her read Forever yet, since that’s the reason I decided it was a good idea to lose my virginity before college (and yet I let her watch Two and a Half Men, which shows how I believe Judy Blume to be way more influential than Charlie Sheen).ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Good call!! When my 17yo was in 6th grade I walked in the kitchen and she was sitting at the table just nonchalantly reading it. I was like, “Um…where did you get that book?” and she said, “From my Language Arts room.” Now, I’m definitely not one to restrict/ban books and think Forever has a good message (at the end – and for much older kids), but was NOT ready for my 11 year old to be reading it. Suffice it to say I called her teacher (who was HORRIFIED that the book was on her shelf – out there for the 11 YEAR OLDS to read) and since my daughter was already more than halfway through it, it forced some interesting Q&A sessions!! Holy. Moly.

  • Alison Sommer - I loved Judy Blume. I burned through all her books that I could get my hands on (although never did end up reading Forever). I look forward to my kids starting to read them, because I’ll totally steal them and read them all over again too.

    PS, your dinner table must be pretty exciting, because I’m pretty sure masturbation is still not a topic at ours. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - Bah! While our dinner conversations ARE hilarious, random and often times shockingly embarrassing, I will say that’s not a topic that’s been discussed!! But I remember that book (It’s Not The End of The World) for that very reason!ReplyCancel

  • Dani Ryan - I’ve read ALL of her books. She even has a couple of adult books. Have you read Summer Sisters? I loved it.

    As a kid, I’d have to say Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was my favorite, but Forever obviously replaced that once I was old enough. 🙂

    I’m not sure I could see a movie adaptation of her books, either. She was my childhood. She taught me so much. I’m not ready to have all of that butchered, you know??ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - Oh how I loved Judy Blume. I think I might have even thought she was a genius. I LOVED her books. I didn’t read all of her books, but my very first one was Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret! I will never forget that book. I then went on to read Tiger Eyes, Deenie and of course Forever. Now I want to go back and reread them all!ReplyCancel

  • groovy carolina - I LOVED JUdy Blume too. I read Are you there God, Its me Margaret! a dozen times and all the rest multiple times. I remember buying Forever in the book store and slipping it in with some other things so my mom wouldn’t notice it. All my books looked likes the ones in your photo. Such a child of the 70s!ReplyCancel

  • Sharonda - This post brought back so many memories. I think Are you there God was my favorite one.


  • Erin DuPre - Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was my very first “chapter book.” I read and reread (and reread)it in second grade and it was my absolute favorite. But, like you I have read and loved all of Judy Blume’s books.ReplyCancel

  • Amy FunnyIsFamily - I haven’t read Forever! Don’t tell anyone.ReplyCancel

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