10 Things I Learned From Judy Blume

March 17, 2013

I’m having so much fun this rainy weekend, re-reading old favorites and discovering new novels of Judy’s that had somehow passed me by.  I’ve been crouched in my favorite reading spot, pencil in hand, for over a day. It’s bliss!

Allowing myself to just sit and read this weekend reminded me how rarely nowadays I let myself do exactly that. This needs to be remedied. Books are such a gift; they transport you to places and cultures and viewpoints of all varieties. Books take you places you’d never see otherwise.

Hope you Blumers are having a fun time reading and writing! I know I am.


In your honor:

Ten Things I Learned From Judy Blume

10. Some girls are actually excited to get breasts. I was so not excited. But that’s probably because my little fruit basket started overflowing in fourth grade. Laura Danker, I feel ya.  (Are You There God, it’s Me Margaret.)

9.  It is okay if you are a nervous and fearful girl. Even better if you admit it. Sheila Tubman is my kind of girl–afraid of water, afraid of the dark, afraid of dogs. As a fellow scaredy-cat, it was nice to see someone as fearful as me. Sisters in sissy-hood. (Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great.)

8. If your boyfriend names his penis, he’s probably not the one for you. I never knew boys named their light sabers? But I can attest that they do, because my sister’s college boyfriend named his penis “Santa.”  I worried at the logic of this. Doesn’t Santa only come once a year? (Forever.)

7. The danger of threes. Two best friends, sharing secrets and making promises and tackling the world together? A beautiful thing. But add another into the mix and you’ve got a potentially poisonous brew. 2 is fine, 4 is fine, 3 is asking for trouble. (As Long as We’re Together.)

6. Puberty sucks for boys, too. It always looked so easy for them, on the outside. They didn’t have to deal with impending breasts or worry constantly that one day, they’d sit up in class and have a crimson tide running down their leg. Turns out, they’ve got uncontrollable things happening to them, too. Like penises who suddenly don’t take orders. It made my period not so bad; at least it wasn’t sticking out there for everyone to see… (Then Again, Maybe I Won’t.)

5. Consider your Halloween costume wisely. It is best not to vandalize your cranky neighbors’ house donned in an enormous, shedding Big Bird costume. Just sayin’. (Blubber.)

4. Just because your parents–or others–have your life planned out for you doesn’t mean you have to follow that path. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. I’m a pleaser. I also didn’t trust myself to know what’s right for me. Actually, I have to admit that I’m still working on this one. I rarely trust myself. I’ll get back to you on this one, okay Judy? (Tiger Eyes, Deenie.)

3. “It’s rough to be on the other side, isn’t it?” Girls are vicious bullies, especially when hormones are running and they travel in packs. You might even be in that pack, even though it makes you squirm and you don’t actively bully–just bear witness and do nothing. Which is a form of bullying. Prepare yourself, because eventually, it will be your turn. (Blubber.)

2. Other cultures are really cool and teach us new things. My mother can vouch for this one. One day, I stormed into the bathroom, startling my mother as she was shaving her legs. Copy of Margaret in hand, I wailed, “Why can’t we be Jewish? Being Jewish sounds so cool! Why are we stupid, boring Lutherans!”  And then I stormed out again, leaving her baffled. Being Jewish did sound cool…especially those goodie bags from Zabars that Grandma brought. (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.)

1. You are not alone. Even when you are absolutely sure you are. ( all of them.)

Judy Blume, thank you for your guidance and inspiration,
#JudyBlumeProject is still going strong! Please consider submitting a piece for consideration. We’d love to have you. Details here. Also, the Judy Blume Project is on FB–come join in!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth March 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm

You know that Zabars delivers, right?

I think my absolute favorite of the non-Fudge JB books was And Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself because it was so outside of my sphere, but so interesting to read. That said, I credit my knowledge of what a mimeograph machine is to Otherwise Known As Shelia The Great.

Know that I’m working on my contribution. I have a Word window perpetually open and I’m adding and subtracting when I feel particularly inspired. This is such a wonderful project and I really, really want to be part of it.


TKW March 18, 2013 at 8:10 am


We really, really want you to be a part of it, too! I learned lots of good terms from Judy, like “flenser.” :)


pamela March 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Oh I love this. I reread Are you there God last weekend. So great but also more brutal than I remembered. Ms. Blume doesn’t sugar coat anything. Glad you got to sit and read.


TKW March 18, 2013 at 8:12 am


That really struck me, too. These books hold a different meaning now that I’m reading them as a mother. Judy’s fearless.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Oh my word, your #2 just knocked me right off my chair. Husband wants to know what is so funny. Loved reading this list – brought back vivid recall of all these books. I think Margaret and Sheila Tubman were my favorites.


Absence of alternativrs March 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

Not growing up in this culture means I really missed a lot of drama when growing up. The dramas happened in college for me… The backstabbing. The gossips. The cliques. So bizarre.


TKW March 18, 2013 at 8:13 am


The bullshit *swear jar* doesn’t end in high school, alas. Some college girls were meaner than any of the jerks in high school.


Tiffany March 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I am completely immersed in J.B. I started with my 5 faves…but am going to re-read all of them. I am having trouble writing my piece because there’s just so much to say!!! Blubber absolutely killed me. I think those kids grew up and starred in Jodi Piccoult’s 19 minutes, no? Damn.


TKW March 19, 2013 at 8:21 am


Ugh, you are right! Talk about stinkers!


katrina Kenison March 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Oh this post makes me wish I was about thirteen and able to read all these books as a girl. Where WAS I when everyone else was reading Judy Blume?? Sounds as if it’s not too late, however, and maybe I should just start now. Loved, loved, loved this post. And what could possibly be better as a writer than knowing you’d made such a difference in someone else’s life?


TKW March 19, 2013 at 8:23 am


Actually, we have quite a few people who didn’t read Judy much or even at all who are participating. It’s really fun to get their perspective, as new readers…adult readers with kids of their own. I’d love to hear what you think!


Katybeth March 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Interesting reading list. I know I read some of the Blume books and enjoyed them a lot but golly that was a long time ago–I’m going to have to spend some time reviewing. I’m intrigued. I’m curious (I can google) what age girls are reading Judy’s books today—and their thoughts (you may have already talked about this–seems like I have the attention span of a gnat these day) Sure seems like a much better alternative than Twilight.
BTW, I have never known a man who didn’t have a nickname for his penis…Pennis the Menace and Chief of Staff are popular. I know this because it came up in mixed adult company ONCE a long time ago. Really.


TKW March 19, 2013 at 8:26 am


Pennis the Menace? Oh my God. I just about died.

I think nowadays girls are ready Judy earlier; for example Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret was targeted for 12-year olds, and I’m pretty sure 10 and 11-year olds are devouring it. Especially if they are avid and advanced readers.


CK March 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

#8 – Santa? Hahahahahahahaha!


TKW March 19, 2013 at 8:26 am

Isn’t that awful? Bwahahaha!


alita March 19, 2013 at 8:18 am

I’m on spring break so what does that mean- favorite blog catching up! And I am so VERY happy I stopped by today. This post put a smile on my face. And to echo CK, #8 had me in a giggle-snort.

I adored this.


TKW March 19, 2013 at 8:28 am


Did you read Judy Blume growing up? I think you are younger than I am, so if you did, I’m curious as to which was your favorite.


Cecilia March 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I found you by way of Rudri’s blog. I love this piece! I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if it hadn’t been for Judy Blume. Reading her books cocooned me in this safe, safe place I desperately needed at the time. This is very inspiring, and I might just go back and do a Judy Blume read-a-thon for old times’ sake (and, sigh, re-read Then Again Maybe I Won’t in a couple of years to prepare for my boy’s pre-teen years…) :-)


TKW March 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm


I have been having so much fun re-reading her books! And actually, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t is one of my favorites! Glad to see you here.


Lisa March 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Just realised my eldest (age 7) and I read Sheila the Great together in the summer, and somehow, I did not realise it was a Judy Blume book. I loved it BTW and loved Sheila’s friends and their quirks, but especially Sheila’s imaginings of what the boys who lived in the house they were renting must have been like.


TKW March 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm


And the fact that she and her friends broke all of Bobby’s model airplanes! I would have been terrified!


denise March 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Dana–this is a fabulous walk down Blume memory lane for me. Oh how I devoured her books. And your #1–yes, yes, YES. That’s it. That’s the universal that the honorable Ms. Blume gave each and every reader.


TKW March 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm


Aren’t we lucky to have had her back then?


Von Rupert March 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I am so right there with you in this list. I wouldn’t change a thing. I reread Are you there God… over the weekend. I had forgotten that my fascination/weird obsession with all things Jewish BEGAN with Margaret. Wow!


faemom March 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

You make me want to ready some Judy Blume. I’ll put it on the list. I wonder if I can sneak it in before the next starts. Fingers crossed.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes March 20, 2013 at 6:28 am

I wish I had known Judy Blume when I was a teenager.


Biz March 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

My favorite line of this whole post!

But I can attest that they do, because my sister’s college boyfriend named his penis “Santa.” I worried at the logic of this. Doesn’t Santa only come once a year?


Caitlin March 20, 2013 at 10:40 am

TKW, please add Agent 86 & Maxwell Smart to your list of #8 names… sigh. ;)


TKW March 21, 2013 at 6:04 am


Agent 86? HAHAHAHA!


Barbara March 21, 2013 at 5:00 am

Really got a chuckle out of #8. (I can think up a few names if you like.) I am finding all the Blume comments interesting. Why didn’t I have all these problems growing up? Life was so simple in the 30’s and 40’s. Really.

Also had to comment on previous post….my ex told me once he could eat hot dogs every night and not mind. Well, the woman he married after me can’t cook, so I hope he’s happy now. (Don’t worry, we’re all good friends, but my kids used to come home from visits telling me she didn’t know how to boil water. Always made me smile, even though it hasn’t bothered my ex one bit. He got what he asked for.)


TKW March 21, 2013 at 6:05 am


Does your ex know my Daddy-o? He, too, could eat hot dogs for every meal. Your story made me smile.


Maggie S. March 21, 2013 at 7:32 am

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was required reading for “School Aged Child Development” in college. It’s remarkable how she could enter into such a variety of growing up experiences.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: