08 June 2013

On Judy Blume...


Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers."
~Judy Blume 

My mom got me involved in reading at an early age. As a teacher, education was an important factor in our daily lives. And one thing in particular that I appreciate her for is the fact that she didn't force reading on us. Oh we had our summer educational chores, mind you. How many of you know what a Cyclo-Teacher is? Well that was a learning aid that covered science, math, spelling, and everything. My brother and I spent considerable time most every day when school was out on this thing.

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
But reading, Mama made fun. I closed down to many of my teachers that would force me to read books I had no interest in. Mama got us involved in the local library reading contests early. She made it meaningful for us to have our very own library cards with our names printed on them. This is well before the internet AND Atari. I could see that it pleased Mama to bring home a big stack of books. And if you brought them home, you read them. Conversely, I could also see Mama's disappointment if we selected something that tended to be "too easy", which geared me towards books with no pictures that got thicker and thicker. By middle school, we had a beautiful, brand new, full volume World Book Encyclopedia set. Not many kids could say that in my neighborhood. I can't say I went through the entire volume, but there were days I would just start with the letter "A" and simply read.

"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear."
~Judy Blume

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Most of my books early on were about ant, bees, and spiders. I even used to have some bees for a little while. I didn't read much non-fiction early on, but when I did, I latched onto Judy Blume's "Tales of a Forth-Grade Nothing"! I think I was in the fifth grade at the time when I was reading it. At the time I didn't realize Judy Blume was such a controversial author, but her books have been on many-a ban lists and she's one of the most challenged authors of the 21st century. She writes for kids, but challenges our ability to handle the more controversial topics common to growing up. She tended to address bullying before it was more mainstream to do so. She took on the racism and divorce. And nobody was tackling the menstrual cycle, masturbation, or teen sex like she has done.

Art Model, Leslie
©2013 Terrell Neasley
According to Wikipedia, a feature film based on one of her most popular books, "Tiger Eyes" was released today in art house cinemas and video-on-demand. You can also listen to her interview on NPR. Y'all know how much I like me some NPR. This woman is a perpetually significant author and a definitive pioneer in literature, especially for young girls. She connects with youths in a much more meaningful manner than other most other authors who strictly entertain. She addresses issues that parents might often find difficult to confront and puts them front and center when others would choose to ignore. I know I had those moments that I simply couldn't go to Mama for help, but kids still get a sense of connection with Mrs. Blume. She has simply found a way to relate and understand. I'd love to see schools who once shunned her work, bring them back in as required reading. I'd like to think we've evolved a bit further on these matters. Follow her on Twitter! She loves tweet'n!

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Many thanks to my dear friend, Art Model Leslie for posing for me. These images come only 10 days after neck surgery, yet she still had the stamina and guts to shoot with me. I tell you I love this woman for her courage to simply be who she is. There was no hiding behind the scar on her neck. She's actually proud of it, because it represents an end to the pain she was dealing with for so long. She's not only a durable sort of woman, but she's also pretty damn smart. I walked out from this shoot with a couple points added to my I.Q. She's inspired me to renew my interest in the domestic environmental nude. There will be more.

No comments: