Are You There, Judy Blume? It’s Us, the Generation of Writers You Inspired

Karjean Levine

We support Judy Blume because Judy Blume supported us. Her words made us feel like there was no wrong way to be a girl. Of course so many of us wanted to create that feeling for others, and her audience is still growing. Jody Worthington and Alison Michael, co-hosts of the podcast The Blume Saloon, report that the next generation of Blume-heads is incoming. “Some of our older listeners are in their 60s and our youngest is a 10-year-old who listens with his mom,” Worthington says. “They’re from all over the globe and the one thing we all have in common is Judy.”

Blume showed generations of women that our bodies are nobody’s scandal, and our words are powerful beyond measure. We’re her “loyal and supportive audience,” loving ourselves and writing our stories, now, and forever. Here, nine writers share their love for Blume. 

“She showed me that words and stories have power.”

It may sound silly, but I was thinking the other day about how growing up, I wanted to be an author. And the prime picture in my head of “author” is Judy Blume. When I can turn around and actually say, “Hey, I did it, I am a writer”—which still sounds so bizarre to me—I know that is largely because of the influence of Judy Blume in showing me that words and stories have power. It can be the path to not only a career, but a life. —Ilana Keller, arts and entertainment reporter

“She answered questions I didn’t yet know how to ask.”

Dear Judy,

I don’t know how, but you were able to see me for the kid I was. Your words and characters spoke to me in a way few real, actual people did. Somehow you understood my struggles, my complicated feelings, my gross desires, and my secret shames. You recognized my friendships, my crushes, my little moments of joy. You answered questions I didn’t yet know how to ask. You gave reassurance on many an angsty, lonely night. I held your books close to my heart and knew I wasn’t alone. Thank you. Thank you for that. —Raina Telgemeier, bestselling author and illustrator

“I realized I could write a book if I wanted.”

I was eleven when I first found Judy Blume. Or, when she first found me. For some reason it was the first time that I realized that books were still being written—that someday, I could write a book, even, if I wanted. —Lisa Asanuma, querying author

“She’s a testament to the power of a single voice.”

Is it weird to admit you love someone you’ve never met? Because I’ll say it: I love Judy Blume! Writers begin as readers, and I know I wouldn’t be a writer today were it not for Judy and the wit, humor, and empathy she embodies on every page. From Superfudge to Summer Sisters, Judy is a testament to the power of a single voice, and I’ll be forever grateful to give her a place of honor on my bookshelf and in my heart. —Jess Keating, author and illustrator of Elements of Genius, a middle grade series

“She taught me to take my own ideas seriously.”

Judy Blume’s books taught me to take young people’s—and especially young girls’—experiences and feelings seriously. In turn, she taught me to take my own ideas seriously. So much of our culture teaches us that young women’s thoughts are frivolous, silly, not worthy of serious attention; that the real and important work of our society happens in the world of adult men. Judy Blume’s books unapologetically center young women’s experiences of the world—their thoughts, fears, and feelings. She’s given me the courage to do the same in my own writing. —Marissa Crawford, writer and editor, co-editor of We Are the Baby-Sitters Club, an anthology about the cultural impact of The Baby-Sitters Club due out this summer

“This world would be a far less creative and hopeful place without her books.”

As I make my career as a writer, I am really just floored by the generosity of people who write books exclusively for children. This world would be a far less creative and hopeful place without young adult literature. I want to thank Judy Blume and all of my other childhood idols for helping me fall in love with books, one of the great pleasures of my life. —Molly Boigon, investigative journalist

“Blubber was transformative for me.”

Blubber was the first book I ever read as a child that included a Chinese American girl, Tracy Wu. Feeling a part of the story for the first time—even though she wasn’t the center of the story—was transformative for me. —Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations

“Judy reminded me that grown-ups are people too.”

One thing that struck me about her books is that the adults aren’t perfect. They have all sorts of neuroses and flaws, and sometimes make bad decisions. Sally’s mom is a chronic worrier, Stephanie’s dad made some poor parenting choices, Deenie’s mom was clueless. Judy helped me understand my parents a bit more and reminded me that grown-ups are people too! It’s been a trip reading her stuff as an adult and realizing I’m older than most of the parents in these books. —Jody Worthington, co-host of The Blume Saloon

“She showed me that you can be both deeply unpleasant but also incredibly lovable.”

I think about Just As Long As We’re Together and Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson probably once a week, though I haven’t reread them in decades. Judy Blume was the first author I can remember reading whose female characters were often deeply unpleasant but also incredibly lovable. I want to thank her for showing me that was a thing you could do and be, both as a writer and as a person. —Katie Cotugno, New York Times bestselling author. Her next book is Liar’s Beach, due out in 2022

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.

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