Are You There God? It's me, Banned Books Week.

September 27, 2012 Banned Books, Children's Fiction, Coming of Age 19

Hi there, Bookworms. Next week is Banned Books Week. Every year the American Library Association celebrates the books that have been challenged or banned from schools and libraries. I plan on devoting all of next week’s posts to things I’ve read on the “banned classics” list.

A lot of them are books you’d expect that were challenged for reasons you’d expect. It’s hard to find a comprehensive list of this sort of thing, so I started googling. My selections for next week focus mainly on modern classics, but there are always tons of new works or children’s books that are the object of parents’ ire. I don’t have kids. I don’t think I’d be happy with my 7 year old picking up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey at school, but otherwise I’m pretty open. Reading is reading, y’all!

Take a breath to steady yourself now. People have apparently tried to have Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, the perennial classic for all tween girls, BANNED.

Really parents? Really?!

Being a girl between the ages of 11 and 14 is pretty much the worst thing ever. You’re awkward and ugly and developing… or not developing. It’s horrendous. This is around the age where girls get mean (they’re awful to each other. And I’m not even speaking as someone chronically bullied or anything. We were all really neurotic and hormonal and impulsive. I again take this opportunity to thank God that I came of age before Facebook…) I’m literally shuddering right now remembering middle school. Incidentally, this is how I know my BFF is indeed FOREVER. Anybody who can love you when you’re at your worst and weirdest is someone worth keeping in your life. Miss your face, HJM.

My visceral reaction to all things middle school makes me unreasonably angry that anyone would ban this book. If you didn’t know already, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is primarily about a girl waiting to start her period. I know, eww, right? But this is SUCH a source of concern for young girls! You start your period too early you worry there’s something wrong with you. You start too late, you worry there’s something wrong with you. You swear off white pants for all eternity. You live in fear that a boy will open your backpack and find your maxi pads… Or lack of maxi pads. It’s AWFUL.

You know what made me feel better at this age? Reading this book! I didn’t read into Margaret’s religious confusion (she was half Jewish half Christian). I didn’t start to question God’s role in my life or refuse to go to CCD. (That’s a lie. I refused to go to CCD all the time- because it was always on Saturday mornings, MOM! But it’s not like reading about a girl with questions undid 12 years of church and Catholic-ness.)  All I gleaned from the book was that I wasn’t the only girl going through this! I wasn’t the only one waiting around to grow up, all the while being terrified of the process.

The watchdog groups say to watch out for discussions of bras, kissing, and emerging sexuality. Well, DUH! That’s kind of what PUBERTY is, people. Seriously. There are physiological changes that happen during puberty and you can’t just change that by not buying your daughter a bra, telling her kissing causes pregnancy, or refusing to explain the birds and the bees. If you take that route, you’ll either end up with a daughter who never ever moves out for fear she’ll catch pregnancy from a public toilet or a pregnant teenager.

Since we’ve taken a trip down the awkward memory lane, do any of you bookworms have a YM moment you want to share?

19 Responses to “Are You There God? It's me, Banned Books Week.”

  1. Quirky Chrissy

    Middle School was, by far, the most horribly awkward experience of my life. I spent a good portion of it eating lunch alone and wondering if I was ever going to have friends again. Then the stereotypical thing happened (I because a cheerleader) and all seemed right with the world. Weird right?

    • wordsforworms

      Being a cheerleader probably helped, but I think a lot of it is just getting sort of used to yourself. I say “sort of” because, well, high school had it’s own set of challenges. At least by then I didn’t get sick to my stomach if I saw another human being enter the bra section…

  2. June

    I have two stories: one about how middle school girls are horribly mean and the other about weird bodily function embarrassment.

    When I was in 8th grade, we took a week-long trip to a camp called Lorado Taft. We lived in cabins and did lots of nature-y things. Anyway, one day I was sitting on a couch in an open lounge area with my “boyfriend” talking to some of our other friends. He awkwardly put his arm around me (because what kind of PDA isn’t awkward at that age?), and a teacher came into the room. The teacher got really angry at us and acted like we were behaving promiscuously, so I ran away crying because I was so upset. Later, some snotty popular girl started a rumor that I had gotten in trouble because I had my hand down my boyfriend’s pants. I was always a very good girl, so I was devastated. I was liked by most of my classmates, but this girl had it out for me!

    Another time I was away at church camp and we were doing these races where you had to hold something in your hands and scoot your butt on the ground from one end of a field to the other. I was wearing shorts and the grass was really rough because it hadn’t rained in a long time. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow the grass rubbed my skin raw where my inner thighs meet my butt. The next day, unbeknownst to me, some kind of weird ooze was coming out of the raw skin and getting on my pants. Everyone (including this guy that I had a HUGE crush on) was staring at me and thought that I had either gotten my period or wet myself. I have never been so embarrassed!

  3. Lyssapants

    I got my period on Halloween, my fave holiday.
    I was wearing a homemade poodle skirt and had to ride my bike back home from school.
    It kinda sucked donkey balls.
    And I’ve never read this book.
    I wonder how I got through it all?

  4. Sami

    I just want to say that I love your blog…I found it through Filing Jointly! I read several book review blogs because books are my life but your reviews are more my style. They are obviously informative but humerous as well. Keep up the good work….making people laugh one book at a time!

    • Words for Worms

      Thank you Sami, for giving me the best compliment ever! Let me know if you have any book suggestions for me. I’m totally influenced by flattery, so now I’ll do pretty much anything you ask. 🙂

  5. Catherine

    The title of this post was all the humor I needed for the week ahead! And I loved Are You There, God- and my mother for letting me read it. Yes, she was often a pain in the ass- CCD! I’m so happy to hear you had to suffer though it as well. With us it was on Saturday nights. I’m not lying. My friend Elaine and I would wait until our parents drove off and then go walk by the houses of boys we liked. Yes, I was out of control.

  6. Erica Skinner

    I completly agree with your statement! Well Done! You are one of my works cited for a research paper. This article has helped alot! Thank You!

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