Judy Blume is an author that knows about censorship all too well—in the ‘70s and ‘80s, her coming-of-age novels were often banned from children’s libraries due to their use of profanity, frank descriptions of sexuality and puberty, and “lack of moral code” (her characters often question God and religion).
The bestselling author of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has been outspoken about the dangers of censorship ever since. And this weekend at the Hay Festival, a Welsh gathering of the arts, she took that point a step further.
“A lot of people will want to control everything in their children’s lives, or everything in other people’s children’s lives,” Blume told the festival audience, according to The Telegraph. “If a child picks up a book and reads something she has a question about, if she can go to her parents, great. Or else they will read right over it. It won’t mean a thing. They are very good, I think, at monitoring what makes them feel uncomfortable. If something makes them feel uncomfortable they will put it down.”
Blume argued that parents should focus on getting their kids to read—no matter what that reading may entail. She also said that opponents to books often don’t really understand the questionable material in the larger context of the book. “Most of the time they hadn’t even read the book. Even if they had, they only read what I would call the ‘good stuff.’”
To conclude the talk, Blume told the young listeners in the crowd, “I say go and read. Read what you like to read.”