Authors & Illustrators Reading Books

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Other Beloved Books by Judy Blume

Judy Blume is the author of more than twenty-five novels. Her third novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published in 1970. This middle-grade book centers around Margaret Simon, whose family moved to the suburbs of New Jersey from New York City in her sixth-grade year. Margaret navigates the awkwardness of adolescence by forming a secret club with her new friends Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie called the Pre-Teen Sensations. Margaret reaches out to God for comfort and guidance but has a lot of questions about faith as a kid with a Christian mother and Jewish father. Blume’s frank depiction of puberty and questions about organized religion made the novel one of the most frequently challenged books for young people. A film based on the book will be released in April 2023, more than fifty years after the novel’s initial publication. 

Judy Blume 2009, Carl Lender of

Are You There God? updated for a new generation

Throughout those years, the novel has gone through many changes, including but not limited to the cover art. The first printing dust jacket of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret featured a yellow cover with a girl sitting on the side of a bed. Other editions feature young friends gathered in a group or a solitary girl figure looking amused and curious – each showing telltale signs of the era it was printed from the 1970s through the 2000s. A redesign in 2018 that featured the title as a text message, and three dots as God’s pending response, had some fans in an uproar. In 1998 Blume updated the novel’s text to make it more understandable for contemporary readers, such as replacing the use of ‘sanitary belts’ with disposable pads. 

Other popular books by Judy Blume

There’s more to Judy Blume than just Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Since she began publishing in 1969 with her first book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, Blume has published over 25 books for young people and adults.  

Among the Judy Blume essentials for young readers are Blubber (1974), a book about bullying in the fifth grade, Iggie’s House (1970), a middle-grade novel about a Black family moving into a white neighborhood, and It’s Not the End of the World (1972), a preteen story about divorce.

Along with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Blume’s teen novels are among her reader’s favorites, including Deenie (1973), about a teen diagnosed with scoliosis, Forever… (1975), which took a bold and honest look at teenage sexuality, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (1971) a book about growing up and puberty from the male perspective, and Tiger Eyes (1981) a complicated story about grief and transition through loss

Blume has also published four adult novels as well: Wifey (1978), Smart Women (1983), Summer Sisters (1998), and In the Unlikely Event (2015). 

Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.

Judy Blume

While young (and old) readers gravitate towards Blume’s characters’ relatable travails and triumphs, it’s not only Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, that has been challenged and banned based on its ‘dangerously’ honest content. Blubber also makes the American Library Association’s list of Frequently Banned Books, and from 1990-1999 five of Blume’s books were in the top 100 – Forever (#7), Blubber (#30), Deenie (#42), Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (#60), and Tiger Eyes (#89).

Judy Blume, Forever

As with most books hitting the banned list – some of Judy Blume’s works have grown so much in popularity that they are a rite of passage for many readers. People over multiple generations point to finding a love of reading within the well-worn pages of one of her novels.

A documentary about the author, Judy Blume, Forever, will be released on Prime Video on April 21, 2023.

1 Comment

  • Thank you, Amy M. I was through “that stage” before Blume began writing- but younger friends have insisted I go back now and make up for it. I have a friend- named Margaret born in 1969 who felt Blume was actually inside her head…..So I did as Margaret insisted and I love Blumes books! Surprise- I’m not a typical “Girl” and I had to deal with a little brother – it was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (2002) that I identify with best….what a gift Blume is. Thank you again! (My bookstore is slanted toward Young adult titles….) “Portia’s Books owner” Dinah born in 1956

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