Judy Blume

Opening General Session

Friday, June 23: 4:00PM - 5:30PM, CT

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Photo of ALA Annual 2023 Closing Session Speakers, Amanda Gorman - photo credit: Danny Williams, and Christian Robinson - photo credit: John Kwiatkowski

In Conversation

Join renowned author Judy Blume and Simon & Schuster Senior Vice President and Publisher Justin Chanda for a captivating discussion about Blume's remarkable writing career and her enduring connection with generations of young adult readers. From her prolific work writing some of the most loved books for young readers to the recent success of the documentary "Judy Blume Forever" on Amazon Prime Video to the adaptation of her iconic book "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret." into a blockbuster movie, you'll discover the life of this celebrated author and her impact on readers' lives. 

In this session, Blume and Chanda will also discuss Blume's thought-provoking journey confronting both fervent fans and staunch critics. It promises to be an important discussion of the complexities of literary freedom and its profound impact on our collective imagination.

Blume’s books have been mainstays on ALA’s Most Challenged Books lists over the years. Yet despite facing censorship challenges, she has fearlessly advocated for intellectual freedom. Blume passionately asserts, "It's not only the books currently under fire that concern me. It's the books that will never see the light of day. The unwritten stories. The unread treasures. All silenced by the specter of censorship. Ultimately, it is the young readers who suffer the most." 

Judy Blume

Judy Blume has been writing for more than 50 years, and she has been making up stories inside her head for even longer. Her 29 books have sold more than 90 million copies in 39 languages. Her beloved books for young people include "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.," recently adapted into a major motion picture and in theaters now, the five-book series about the irrepressible "Fudge," as well as "Just as Long as We’re Together," "Tiger Eyes," and "Forever."  Her novels for adult readers include "Summer Sisters" and "In the Unlikely Event." The acclaimed documentary, "Judy Blume Forever," currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, showcases Blume's fearlessness in her writing and its influence on generations of readers, including writers like Jason Reynolds, Alex Gino, and Jacqueline Woodson, famous fans like Molly Ringwald, Lena Dunham, and Samantha Bee, and women who wrote to Blume growing up.  

Blume is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. B. White Award for Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature.  She lives in Key West, Florida, where she and her husband George Cooper founded the independent bookstore, Books&Books@The Studios. These days, Blume can be found working several days a week at her shop.  Stop by and say hello.


Justin Chanda - Moderator

Justin Chanda joined the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster in 2005 after an eight-year stint at HarperCollins. A graduate of New York University, Chanda was named publisher of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint in 2007 and McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2009. He oversees the publication of nearly 350 titles per year ranging from the youngest picture book to the edgiest YA. He is keenly interested in publishing books that are equal parts commercial and literary, books that contribute to the tradition while truly entertaining kids. Aside from having the honor of working with the best editorial staff in the industry, he also has the opportunity to edit some of its best talent, including the likes of Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Jessie Sima, E. R. Frank, Mike Lupica, S.J. Kincaid, Carter Goodrich, Aaron Reynolds, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Morgan Matson. Chanda is also an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program.


Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Image