Judy Blume ripped attempts to ban books and described what “books are all about” during an interview published by Variety on Friday.
Blume weighed in on book bans as attempts to challenge literary materials in schools and public libraries reached a record high in 2022, according to a report from the American Library Association.
The iconic author, known as an activist against book ban efforts, has seen several of her books challenged over the years, including “Forever...” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”
Blume told Variety that the challenges “all broke loose” following the election of President Ronald Reagan but argued that efforts to ban books today are different.
“It was bad in the ’80s, but it wasn’t coming from the government. Today, there are laws being enacted where a librarian can go to prison if she or he is found guilty of having pornography on their shelves,” Blume said.
“Try and define pornography today, and you’ll find that it’s everything.”
Blume’s comments come after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that efforts to remove books from state classrooms only impact “pornographic and inappropriate” materials, a claim that literary group PEN America declared false in a post last month.
The author, a Key West, Florida resident, has also spoken out against GOP-backed efforts in the state.
The author wrote “Sorry, Margaret.” – a nod to the main character of her novel that addresses menstruation – in response to a tweet about a bill that would ban discussion of menstrual cycles in Florida classrooms.
Blume, in her interview with Variety, referred to politician-led attempts to challenge books as “the real danger.”
“What are you protecting your children from? Protecting your children means educating them and arming them with knowledge, and reading and supporting what they want to read,” Blume said.
“No child is going to become transgender or gay or lesbian because they read a book. It’s not going to happen. They may say, ‘Oh, this is just like me. This is what I’m feeling and thinking about.’ Or, ‘I’m interested in this because I have friends who may be gay, bi, lesbian.’ They want to know.”
Blume later praised one book – Maia Kobabe’s frequently-challenged memoir “Gender Queer” – for offering her insight into a life other than her own.
“I thought, ‘This young person is telling me how they came to be what they are today.’ And I learned a lot and became even more empathetic,” she said.
“That’s what books are all about.”’
You can read more of Blume’s interview with Variety here.