Getting a Read on Your Child's Literature

Kathryn Lopez
Posted: May 08, 2009 2:27 PM
Getting a Read on Your Child's Literature

I'm encouraging all parents and teachers to read Judy Blume's latest writing. And I'm not alone. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, implores, "Please, let her know how much we appreciate her courage." That's where Richards and I diverge.

Judy Blume, author of "Superfudge" (a staple in most American schoolchildren's lives for decades now) has most recently penned a fundraising letter for Planned Parenthood for Mother's Day.

"Say thanks this Mother's Day with a gift that honors her courage by making a donation to Planned Parenthood in her name. I guarantee you that she'll be pleased. I know I would be," Blume writes.

Blume continues: "I'm a mom, and I'm also a writer and an activist. Nothing has made me prouder than seeing my own children -- and really, all young people -- grow up to be healthy, educated, and in charge of their bodies and their lives. That's where Planned Parenthood comes in. There is no organization that I know of that supports motherhood and all that it means more than Planned Parenthood. That's why I'm honoring moms everywhere with my gift to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund today."

Critics are accused of a lack of "compassion" by Richards. But a Mother's Day fundraiser for the single biggest abortion provider in the United States (subsidized by your tax dollars) is insulting, most especially to the women who are suffering because they rejected motherhood and know they ended a life in the process.

The Blume pitch for Planned Parenthood reminds me of something that happened last Mother's Day. In, perhaps, a misguided attempt at compassion, I wanted to highlight a web site called But the founder of the site, Michaelene Fredenburg, talked me out of it. Unlike Planned Parenthood, I didn't have fundraising on my mind. I simply wanted mothers who were grieving a painful choice they made in their lives to be drawn to an online, anonymous place where they could discuss their feelings and seek more professional help if they chose to. But it's just too painful, Michaelene said. Every day is painful if you regret your abortion, but Mother's Day can be too painful. It's pain Fredenburg knows intimately. And so this year, here is Planned Parenthood and Judy Blume, exploiting the Hallmark holiday for political advocacy. For fundraising! And accusing others of lacking compassion all the while.

I'm grateful for the Blume fundraising letter, though, because it highlights something busy parents and teachers all too often don't realize: That book your child is reading is imparting values, and they might not be your own. "I first heard about sex from Judy Blume," a fortysomething mother of six told me immediately after I mentioned Blume's name to her. Today, perhaps, that's not the situation -- Blume's not the first time -- our culture being as oversexualized as it is. But Blume remains an unnecessary presence in children's lives, as a substitute parent and cheerleader of that sex-ed crazed culture that she served as a trailblazer of. And a presence trusted adults put in children's lives, as if issuing an Imprimatur, A Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Though frequently thought of as the harmless author of "Superfudge," that spin is fudging the reality of Judy Blume. Her books are hormonal cheerleaders -- as if adolescents' bodies need the help. In "Forever," Blume is right where she was in her fundraising letter, praising a progressive grandmother whose only fault seems to be that she is so devoted to Planned Parenthood rallies that she doesn't have time to help her granddaughter get contraception from there. Planned Parenthood does provide young Katherine with the Pill and makes a graphic first-time scene possible.

Next time you're just happy your daughter or son is reading, consider that your child may be reading, "Can you spread your legs some more ... and maybe raise them a little?" That's in "Forever," which is clearly a pre-teen or teen book (if that makes it better -- I'm not so sure). "Deenie," however, is for children on a fourth-grade reading level. Would you knowingly hand your third or fourth grader a guide to self-arousal? You are when you hand him "Deenie."

This is the dirty little secret the Planned Parenthood world has long been aware of even if every parent and teacher hasn't. As one writer on the RH Reality Check Web site put it: "When you can't count on the government, schools, or dubiously funded clinics for medically accurate and comprehensive sex education, you can still count on Judy Blume."

In her fundraising letter, Blume writes that "If you are the daughter whose mom had the guts to give you the answers to questions you couldn't quite figure out how to ask," you should give to Planned Parenthood. If you are the daughter whose mom didn't have "the guts," Blume was probably on your classroom bookshelf -- or maybe your parents even provided, unknowingly -- to make the introduction. Forget long, protracted policy debates about sex ed. Blume has had it all covered, since, perhaps, long before your child's fourth-grade teacher was even born.