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Judy Blume tells it like it is when it comes to books and censorship.

Judy Blume's actions speak louder than words when asked how she feels about banning books.

Judy Blume tells it like it is when it comes to books and censorship.

In June, author and all-around American treasure Judy Blume spoke at Washington, D.C.'s Politics & Prose bookstore.

Blume was there promoting her latest novel "In the Unlikely Event," but her nearly hour-long conversation with NPR's Linda Holmes was an entertaining, career-spanning sit-down.

One of the interview's most interesting portions touched on the topic of "banned books," something Blume knows all too well, having been the target of censorship efforts ("Forever," "Blubber," "Deenie," "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," and "Tiger Eyes"). She was asked if it hurt for people to say her books were bad for kids.


Her response was honest:

GIFs via Politics & Prose.

And just plain fantastic:

JUDY! Yes! Actions DO speak louder than words!

But if this discussion happened in June, why am I writing about it in October? Well...

Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2015, is the annual Banned Books Week.

In 1982, in response to a massive push to ban certain books from schools, bookstores, and public libraries, the American Library Association set aside a week each year to celebrate controversial literature and push back on censorship.


"Banned Books Week is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read," reads the official BBW website. "Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events."

Blume, whose work has faced countless challenges, is a vocal supporter of the week and anti-censorship efforts.

"Censors don't want children exposed to ideas different from their own," she writes on her website. "If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty. I wish the censors could read the letters kids write."


The larger point is about the important differences between criticism and censorship.

Criticism is the ability to say why you like or don't like something. Criticism is, generally speaking, good. Criticism sparks conversation.

Censorship is something else entirely. Again, from Blume's website:

"I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children's lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don't read about it, their children won't know about it. And if they don't know about it, it won't happen.

Today, it's not only language and sexuality (the usual reasons given for banning my books) that will land a book on the censors' hit list. It's Satanism, New Age-ism and a hundred other isms, some of which would make you laugh if the implications weren't so serious. Books that make kids laugh often come under suspicion; so do books that encourage kids to think, or question authority; books that don't hit the reader over the head with moral lessons are considered dangerous." — Judy Blume

The fight against censorship is important, especially for anyone who stands out from the crowd.

In the Politics & Prose interview, Blume talked about growing up and so desperately wanting to be "normal." It's a theme that runs throughout her early work, in particular "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."

When you feel "different," like an outcast, it's extremely comforting to know that others like you have felt the same — even when that person is a fictional character named Margaret. To so very many, that book served as a guide to self-acceptance and understanding the importance of challenging norms.

Without Judy Blume, so many of us wouldn't have learned that wonderful lesson.

You can (and should) watch Judy Blume's full conversation with Linda Holmes below.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."