Thank You Judy Blume
My little princess has had a hard time with reading, primarily because she has significant audio and visual processing issues. So in our house, with my stacks and stacks of books, a lot of our books sit… waiting. Today, though, we had an incredibly awesome moment. She asked me to help her finish reading one of her library books because she had a special book she wanted to check out. Of course I asked her which one it was, sure that it would be a princess something with lots of pictures, because that’s pretty much all she reads.
“Oh, Mom, it’s this great book. It’s got this kid named Fudge in it and there’s lots of books in the series. But the one I want is called Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Have you ever heard of it?”
Have I ever heard of it?
“Come with me,” I told her, and I took her downstairs to the magical bookcase, the place where I keep all of my books from my childhood, plus a few of the older books I like to collect.
As we went downstairs, she got more and more excited. “You have it? Oh, I just know you have it. You always have the coolest books. Do you have all of the books? Oh, I just know you do.”
I didn’t answer her questions, mostly because I wasn’t sure which ones I had. I had saved a few of my childhood treasures, and our eldest daughter went through a “Fudge” phase, where she had to have all of the Fudge books, and I’d kept those. I hoped I had Tales, but I wasn’t sure. When I was in my early teens, my mom thought that purging my book collection was a good idea, and she made me get rid of a bunch. I managed to salvage a few, and today, they still remain my treasures. My books got me through a lot when I was a kid, and I’d always hoped to pass on that love to my own children.
When we got to my magical bookcase, I immediately spied the Fudge books. It took some digging but I finally found… yes, the book she was looking for. In that search, we also found a lot of other great books that I loved as a kid- a lot by Judy Blume. Books my daughter eagerly eyed and commented that she wanted to read because she’d heard they were good. She grabbed Tales off the shelf and immediately began reading. Even though she only got through a couple of pages, my struggling little reader read. And she was mad when I sent her to bed. I suspect that after I tucked her in, she turned on her lamp and kept reading.
People wonder why I keep all of my books. Tonight was one of those reasons. Having a struggling reader means that if she shows interest in anything, I want that book in her hands right away. Part of her processing issue means that if she’s excited about it today, she may not be tomorrow, and I will have lost that chance. I love having books to share… with my friends, with my family, but mostly, with my girls.
Tonight also reminded me of a lot of the reason why I write. I was that kid- weird, smart, awkward, and sometimes bullied for it. Judy Blume and a lot of others wrote stories that made it okay to be who I was. My kids are weird. Cowgirl doesn’t care that she’s different. But my little princess, some days I ache for her because she struggles so much with being different. I write books for people to know that they’re not alone. If you’re weird or different or have issues, it’s okay. You’ve got someone who understands, and I hope, in those moments when you read my work, you’ll feel a little less like it’s you against the world.
Thank you, Judy Blume. Thank you for writing the books that encouraged me as a kid. Thank you for writing books I can pass on to my daughter because she relates to them and can actually read them, despite her processing issues. I could fill several books thanking the authors whose work I am thankful for. But I won’t. At least not today. Tonight, I want to honor the woman who has always had the courage to share with us, even today as she blogged about her recent battle with breast cancer. How interesting that I have this experience with my daughter the same day she blogged. I thought about writing this in the same way she wrote the first book of hers to catch my eye, Dear Mr. Henshaw, but then I thought it might be awkward if she saw it and actually played Mr. Henshaw and made me answer questions. So I have no questions for her today, just my gratitude.
How about you? Are there books from your childhood that you’ve passed on to your children?