Thursday, September 28, 2006

Judy Blume Forever Censored?



In recognition of ALA's Banned Books Week, I have been reading Judy Blume's Forever. Blume has been described as one of the most censored authors of our time. Forever, which had its debut in 1975, is an explicit account of teenage love. Over thirty years later, Blume's books for adolescents still consistently hit the top ten. According to a book list posted by Delete Censorship,




“Forever” by Judy Blume, a favorite for girls and young teens, has frequently been the target of censors. This story about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl has been challenged since its publication (1975) because it “does not promote abstinence and monogamous relationships.” It was challenged by Midvalley Junior-Senior Scranton, Pennsylvania high school library (1982), Orlando, Florida schools (1982) and Akron, Ohio school district libraries (1983) for using “four-letter words” and for talking about masturbation, birth control and disobedience to parents.
I didn't read this book as a teen. Perhaps my school decided it was too controversial. But I tried to weigh my thoughts as a parent into my reading this week. The language is blunt. From swear words to popular euphemisms for the sex act, Blume pulls no punches. She is blunt in other ways that I appreciate as a parent. She explains more about VD and safe sex than is likely explained by the average parent.

Her realistic portrayal of two teens exploring the new world of adolescent love is not likely to date itself any time soon although the new edition includes a forward from Blume on the dangers of AIDS and the necessity for sexually active people to use condoms.

For sexually active teens, I think this book could help to sort out their feelings as well as give them information to stay safe. For teens who may wait for that first sexual encounter, Forever provides a "safe" way for them to explore this new sexual world without diving right in.

Read an article on banning by Judy Blume.

Read an excerpt of Forever here.

12 comments:

UnDer CoNstRuCT!oN said...

I'm a teenaged girl, 16 in fact, and I’m not telling you to give this book to your four year old but to all mothers this is a good book about the difference between true love and your first love. Sure there are sex scenes but there are more explicit sex scenes in the shows teens watch everyday and the difference between the scenes on TV and in the book is, on TV it seems romantic hip fun cool hot and sexy. They don't show the disappointment and hurt and pain that Judy Blume shows. Have you ever thought that the reasons teens have sex is because no one talks to them about it. I don't know about you but, my mom teaching me about sex doesn't exactly turn me on to having it, it teaches me not too. I don't know why it is in the adult section that’s like giving a cookbook to a world master chef you already know about it and have experienced situations similar to the story line. Saying a book will convince teens to have sex just shows how far we have come as a society why are parents trying so hard to ban this book or keep it away from teens, shouldn't you be worried about the internet and porno's and the ever popular MTV and BET, honestly wouldn't you rather have teens learn about the pain and heartache of having sex from Judy Blume (and you) than the cool hot sexy gotta have it now versions that the television and internet has to offer????

Anonymous said...

Like the above poster, I agree that Forever should not be banned. As a boy of 17, I read this book as part of my English interim project. This novel might contain some pretty graphic scenes almost equitable to internet pornography, but it has some very important educational values. It covers the difficulties of sex (pregnancy, disease, etc.) and does a great job of detailing both the negative and positive impacts of sex in a relationship. Essentially, this book provides the imformation necessary to serve as a decent substitute for "the talk about birds and bees" or Health Class 1010. It offers a more honest and down-to-earth image of sex as opposed to putting sex on a pedestal. But even though I support the removal of censorship of this book, I think it should be placed with caution in a school library. It should be restricted to high school maybe eighth graders, but ONLY if they are exceedingly mature. It's quite easy to see this as just another generic sexy teenage entertainment novel, but it is more than that, much more. The reader require a certain degree of analytical skill to see that.

Anonymous said...

Forever
A banned book is one that has been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore, or classroom because of its controversial content. In some cases, banned books of the past have been burned and/or refused publication. Judy Blume’s Forever is a 1975 novel dealing with teenage sexuality. Because of the novel's content it has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 at number eight. (American Library Association) The book is often cited as controversial because of Blume's use of explicit images and because her character Katherine goes on "the pill". Criticism of the novel often comes from sexual abstinence pressure groups, as well as religious groups who consider the use of 'the pill' unsuitable for Blume's teenage audience.

Katherine is a high school senior when she meets and falls in love with Michael. Her parents grow concerned about how much time they are spending together and it's true that they are together whenever possible. Soon they even begin a sexual relationship. They become very attached until Katherine is sent to work at summer camp. Katherine meets a young man named Theo and falls in love with him. Michael’s heart is broken and never speaks with her again. Their relation breaks off because she is not ready for "forever".
Judy Blume, author of adolescent classics Fudgemania, SuperFudge and Freckle Juice is one of the most banned and challenged writers in America. “Since the early 1980s her many detractors have feverishly cited Blume's explicit promotion of teenage insubordination, masturbation and the encouragement of adolescent sexual behavior as valid reasons to remove her books from shelves in libraries and schools across the country.”(Jordan Small) Blume defends herself by saying:

“It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”- Judy Blume

There are sexually explicit scenes in this book and it shouldn't be shelved in the children's section of the library or bookstore. At the time it was written there was no formal category of "Young Adult," but surely that's how it would be published today. “Kids are always asking, How old do I have to be before I can read this book?”(Blume) An impossible question to answer. Some kids are ready at twelve, some not until later. They usually know themselves. If it makes them feel uncomfortable, they can put the book down.

Parents in Fayetteville, Arkansas have petitioned to have Forever removed from school libraries. The parents, who formed Parents Protecting the Minds of Children, object to the profane language and depictions of sexuality in Forever have accused the librarians and other opponents of their efforts of promoting a "homosexual agenda". PPMC objects to this novel because of its depictions teenage sex, as well as the fact that many teenagers praise the book for its frank discussion of sex. The lines I found to prove their point are:

"Sybil Davison has a genius IQ and has been laid by at least six different guys. She told me herself, the last time she was visiting her cousin, Erica, who is my good friend. Erica said this is because of Sybil's fat problem and her need to feel loved — the getting laid part that is."(Katherine)

I understand why parents are worried about the images and information their children might be getting from this book. They should not go as far as banning this book; instead they should sit down with their children and explain the parts they do not understand to them. “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.”(Blume)

Pasadena Independent School District superintendent Dr. Rick Schneider has banned this book from the shelves of libraries within the district. The book had previously been found in the collections of one intermediate and three high schools. According to district policy process, a campus review committee was formed to study the book. The issue was next studied by a central office committee comprised of administrators, instructors and parents and then by Schneider. Though an initial committee recommendation was that the work be removed from only intermediate and not high school libraries, it was ultimately decided to withdraw Forever from the district library system completely due to what was deemed sexually explicit content. Dr Schneider had this to say:
"Certain passages were not appropriate for any students of the school district," continued Schneider.
For sexually active teens, I think this book could help to sort out their feelings as well as give them information to stay safe. For teens that may wait for that first sexual encounter, Forever provides a "safe" way for them to explore this new sexual world without diving right in. Schneider has to also think of how most people might not think this book is inappropriate in High Schools.





This novel might contain some pretty graphic scenes almost equitable to internet pornography, but it has some very important educational values. It covers the difficulties of sex (pregnancy, disease, etc.) and does a great job of detailing both the negative and positive impacts of sex in a relationship. Essentially, this book provides the information necessary to serve as a decent substitute for "the talk about birds and bees". It offers a more honest and down-to-earth image of sex as opposed to putting sex on a pedestal. But even though I support the removal of censorship of this book, I think it should be placed with caution in a school library. It should be restricted to high school maybe eighth graders, but only if they are exceedingly mature. It's quite easy to see this as just another generic sexy teenage entertainment novel, but it is more than that, much more. The readers require a certain degree of analytical skill to see that.

Anonymous said...

I've never read the book, but it was used back when my mother was in school as a English reading list selection. That did it right there. A parent review committie was formed and went as far as a documentary being made about questionable childrens books in schools. The book is no longer in our library, and by the sounds of the parents in the documentary, this book should be only given to Freshmen and up. When my mom was in school she had it in Eighth grade. Her mother did not raise any hooplah about it, but oh boy, some others did.

Amanda said...

I read this book when I was 11. I was FAR TOO YOUNG. It was shelved in the library as 'young adult', which I had only just moved into reading, and as I loved Judy Blume's other books I borrowed it without hesitation.

I wish the librarian had told me or my mother that I shouldn't be reading it yet.

molly said...

i read this book recently im only 12 but after i read it it made me think about sex and why at a young age its wrong to talk to my parents about safe sex and when to start i believe that judy blume can help young girls such as me and my friends,after telluing them about what it made me think they read it too so they could build confidence to talk to their parents too. blume should be proud she has just made 4 girls more confident about themselves talking and that we all promised no sex untill we are sure we are in love and old enuf

Anonymous said...

you guys are all retards.
my 10 year old sister read it.
i dont understand what youre talking about; mothers ? retards.

Anonymous said...

i've read forever twice. once just for fun and i just finished reading it for a school project. both times i've read i've gotten mixed feeling from it. i like it.. but i my self have been in a relationship for close to two years.. he's my first everything. we are both 18 and i am really happy with him.. but after reading it i feel like i'm not ready to commit when normally i do. i think it is a good book to read no matter the age.. well obviously they should be old enough to understand.. but i myself think you learn alot about the book.. and everyone has those feelings and it gives a young girl the chance to see that she's the same as other girls. the story is real. i don't think it should be censored and it definately made me think twice about everything.

Haylee in NV said...

This book is great!Why would anyone want to have it banned or censored? I understand that young kids shouldn't read this but that doesn't mean the older kids and adults need to have it taken away. I read this book at the age of 11, and here I am age 13, reading this book over and over again for fun. I understand every word and love the book despite some variuos parts...

xoBellaCullenxo said...

This book is very educational! Not in the school sex-ed way, but in a way teens understand. It's tough to admit, but our generation DOES involve more sex then it did back in the 50's. I'm not saying it's a book for a 7 year old, but it's also not an X-rated novel, either. Judy Blume really shows teens that life isn't a movie, and your relationship won't always last. Thanks to this novel, I am no longer naive to the "dating world". Forever taught me that "forever" doesn't always mean "forever.

Liyah said...

i being a teenage girl think this book is wonderful! if you ban her your banning my rating of reading and other girls such as myself only read her stories. You can even bring in the school board with it. and also girls with kids can also relate to this book, im 15 and have NO kids but its okay for anyone to like it. I read and reccomended this book at a young age.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read Forever . . . by Judy Blume . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.