Judy Blume is more than just the poet laureate of pubescent hormones. Besides educating millions of girls about the perils of belted sanitary napkins in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, she’s found massive success writing for grown-ups (Wifey, Smart Women, and Summer Sisters have all topped the New York Times best-seller list), received countless literary awards and distinctions (including the Library of Congress’ Living Legends Award), and founded the children’s education nonprofit The Kids Fund. Blume’s greatest contribution to American culture may be her crusade against censorship. Thanks to their honest depictions of teenage sexuality, her books are perennial targets for conservatives: Unbelievably, her 1975 classic Forever continues to rank high on banned-book lists. But Blume is motivated by her detractors. She’s assembled a collection of stories by banned authors, worked with the National Coalition Against Censorship, and written countless eye-rolling op-eds on the issue (“At the rate we’re going,” she wrote in a 1999 defense of the Harry Potter series, “I can imagine next year’s headline: Goodnight Moon Banned for Encouraging Children to Communicate with Furniture.”) Tonight, she speaks (uncensored) about her views and career, and gets presented with her latest honor: the John P. McGovern Award for behavioral sciences.
Judy Blume discusses her work with NPR correspondent Lynn Neary at 7 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. $23. (202) 633-3030.