To CSM's credit, they do not purposefully angle at deterring anyone from the book, but these ratings do concern me. I was between the ages of 9 and 11 when I read these stories—far younger than what their ratings advise. But guess what? I didn't go out and suddenly lose my virginity—I was an honors student; I didn't do drugs and I didn't get pregnant. If anything, Blume's books rendered me more conscientious and aware of my young sexuality. I learned from Forever about birth control, Planned Parenthood, and that it was better to be in love for your first time.
And it wasn't until I read Deenie that I learned about masturbation. I remember being around the age of 10 when I discovered that it felt pretty awesome to touch myself "down there," but it also made me feel dirty and ashamed, like I was the only person in the world who had this seedy "ailment." Imagine my amazement when I discovered in Deenie that I was actually normal. Blume wrote: "Usually I take a shower and get out as fast as I can, but I liked the feeling of relaxation and I rubbed my special spot with my wash cloth until I got that special feeling." It was a revelation, and I'm glad I learned this at the age of 10, instead of being some sexually repressed 31-year-old woman who scoffs, "Oh, I never masturbate."
So, maybe these "ratings" have a purpose—I don't have children—but I see them as useless. What happens in Judy Blume's books is real and it is what every girl will experience one day, which is a far better lesson to learn than falling in love with a vampire.
Written by Anne Ichikawa for The Frisky