“Blume is a longtime champion of children’s education and advocate of intellectual freedom,” says Barbara Tuceling of the Smithsonian Associates. “She’s given a voice to young people coming of age that they may not have otherwise had, and she’s done so with honesty and great care for her young readers.”
Blume is best-known for her work in children’s and young adult fiction, with books such as Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Blubber, Forever and Tiger Eyes. With identifiable characters that readers could relate to, she has unflinchingly and realistically dealt with coming-of-age issues like menstruation, bullying and teen sex. Her books have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 31 languages. Now 73 years old, Judy Blume is currently at work on a young adult novel set in the 1950s. “I like the 12-and-under set,” she wrote in a recent email to me. “and also the adult voice. Yet here I am writing a long, complicated novel from various viewpoints, all of them teenagers in the ’50s.”
Following the presentation, Blume will reflect on her career and discuss today’s children and the challenges of the American family, as seen through the lens of her work, with NPR arts correspondent Lynn Neary. Be sure to check out my interview with Blume in the upcoming January 2012 issue.