The Thursday Book Beat: Judy Blume Encourages Parents to Help Their Kids Love Books

Welcome back readers! This week, our book news is peppered with some big names doing incredible things.

Sci-fi readers and fans of legendary author Ursula K. Le Guin have more than funded a Kickstarter to produce a documentary on Le Guin’s life. Director Arwen Curry is a Le Guin fan herself, and has spent a substantial amount of time filming footage with the author. The production’s $800,000 budget had been helped tremendously by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Curry turned to Kickstarter hoping to raise another $80,000 towards “closed captioning for the hearing impaired, our musical score, licensing archival photographs, and most of our editor’s time.”

Fans contributed with enthusiasm, raising just over $150,000 to date. As the National Endowment would not release funds until the full production budget costs were raised, the success of the Kickstarter puts the project only $50,000 away from their goals. It’s clear that the documentary will have keen viewers, along with a dedicated production team–what better way to share Le Guin’s work and legacy?

Speaking of legacies, filmmaker Aaron Sorkin is joining in the appreciation of Harper Lee’s legacy, with the announcement that he will be producing a theatre adaptation of Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The play will premiere on Broadway during the 2017-2018 season, though there aren’t many more details that have been shared. One of the common questions I’ve heard since the news came out: why? I assume we’ll get more clarification on Sorkin’s decision to adapt this particular novel as the premiere draws closer.

To Kill a Mockingbird is, after all, a novel that is closely intertwined with American history. It’s a book that’s read in classrooms across the country, to varying degrees of engagement, and (hopefully) a book that inspires conversations among kids. But of course, Mockingbird wouldn’t be the first novel to be banned from schools, and frankly, beloved author Judy Blume’s not on board with decisions like that.

In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Blume explains her own thoughts on censorship of literature in classrooms. Blume points out rather candidly:

“A lot of people will want to control everything in their children’s lives, or everything in other people’s children’s lives. If a child picks up a book and reads something she has a question about, if she can go to her parents, great. Or else they will read right over it. It won’t mean a thing. They are very good, I think, at monitoring what makes them feel uncomfortable. If something makes them feel uncomfortable they will put it down.”

Blume displays a trust in kids not often seen from the parents who lobby for banning books–it’s not surprising, considering how influential Blume’s own work has been for the last few generations of children. Here’s hoping parents listen.

Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz is a writer and boy band scholar. You can also find her at Book Riot for endless discussion and flailing over all things literature. Ice cream, Broadway musicals, and Arashi are her lifeblood.