ALA Annual Conference 2023

A Blume-aissance: #ALAAC2023 Opening Session with Beloved Author Judy Blume

Author Judy Blume has short, curly hair and is smiling. She wears a turquoise bead necklace.

The opening session at #alaac2023 started off with publisher Justin Chanda in conversation with beloved author Judy Blume. It was delightful and inspiring to hear her talk about her books, her career, her bookstore in Key West, and, of course, censorship, book bans, and challenges. Blume said that she has always loved libraries and told stories of “playing librarian” when she was a child.

After fifty years of writing, she is happy to now own her own bookstore. She shared some stories of recent interactions with patrons. Recently, a little girl came into the store with her mom. The girl kept picking out books and had a stack of them. Her mom said, “This is not like the library. We can’t get all of those.” Blume was delighted (as was the audience) by the thought that this child was so familiar with libraries that she assumed she could also borrow books from the bookstore.

About censorship, Blume said her question to people trying to ban books is, “What are you afraid of?” Blume said she had a display of banned books in her store. She is now going to encourage customers to write notes about “why this book is important to me.”

With the release of the film version of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. and the documentary, Judy Blume Forever, Chanda described this time as a Blume-aissance. Lucky readers get to experience a renaissance of the wonderful Judy Blume.

What a great start to the conference here in Chicago!

Today’s guest contributor is Soline Holmes (she/her/hers). Soline is a librarian and the Information Services Department chair at Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a Member-at-Large (and the incoming Secretary) for ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable and a member of ALSC’s Children and Libraries Editorial Advisory Committee. She also serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award committees for K-2 and 3-5, is a board member of the New Orleans Information Literacy Collective (2021-22 Chair), and is a Teaching with Primary Sources Network Mentor. She has given presentations on graphic novels, Mother Goose and STEM, Primary Sources, and Global Education at local and national conferences. At ALA, she is looking forward to some of her favorite events: the GNCRT Magical Tea and the Newbery/Caldecott/Legacy Banquet. At conference, you might be able to find her munching on red Twizzlers.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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