What is Censorship?
Who should be allowed to say what books, movies, or TV you may have? Does anyone tell you what you can't read or watch?
These are questions that deal with censorship. Censorship happens when someone believes that a book or other material (movie, magazine, computer game, etc.) contains something bad and shouldn't be read or seen, and then tries to make sure people can't access the ''bad'' materials.
Censorship can happen in a small area, like when one library removes a book from its shelves, or it can occur in a much larger area, like when a group goes to court to try and keep an item from being read or seen anywhere at all.
Are You There, God?
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume is a book about growing up. It's a simple story told by the main character, Margaret.
Margaret just moved from New York City to New Jersey and is starting her sixth-grade year at a new school. The book tells the story of sixth grade—friends, secret clubs, gossip, and the changes that happen as a part of growing up. She also spends time trying to decide if she wants to be Jewish, like her dad's family, or Christian, like her mom's family. Her parents practice neither religion and say Margaret can choose.
Censorship of Margaret
Although it's a story that many people can relate to, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret has encountered censorship. In the 1980s, several school libraries removed the book, and many other libraries talked about doing the same. Other school libraries only let a student check out the book with a note from their parents. The American Library Association has a list of the ''100 Most Challenged Books'' from 1990 to 1999 and another for 2000 to 2009; Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is on both lists.
Censored for Sexuality
Why were so many people upset about Margaret's story? The most common complaint about it was its discussion of sexuality and religion. Let's look at some examples.
Margaret and her friends talk extensively about periods, and when one girl gets her period, she tells her friends about it. Margaret and her friends also do an exercise meant to make their chests larger, during which they chant, ''We must, we must, we must increase our bust!''
Margaret and her friends sneak a look at an anatomy book to see what the male body looks like. One girl says, ''Do you suppose that's what Philip Leroy looks like without his clothes on?'' Another answers, ''Naturally, dope! He's male, isn't he?'' The girls also take a look at an issue of a magazine known for showing naked people.
The sixth graders have a dinner party where they play the kissing games ''Spin the Bottle'' and ''Two Minutes in the Closet.'' Margaret worries about who she will have to kiss.
Censored for Religion
The book has also been recommended for censorship because of its title character's ongoing conversations with God, with some stating that the questioning of religion is inappropriate for young readers.
Margaret talks to God about her thoughts and feelings. She asks God several times to help her with growing up: ''Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I just told my mother I want a bra. Please help me grow, God. You know where.''
Margaret also talks to God about wanting to pick a religion, since all her friends have one. She tells God when it's not going well. ''Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I've been to church. I didn't feel anything special in there, God. Even though I wanted to.''
Despite its history of censorship, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is now widely available and remains popular decades after its original release.
Censorship is when someone tries to prevent people from reading or viewing a book or other material. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret has been censored due to its treatment of topics related to sexuality and religion.