As a child, the first book I read that truly grabbed my heart was Blubber by Judy Blume. I identified with Linda, aka "Blubber," because I was the kid in class everyone decided to ridicule. I wasn't overweight, or the teacher's pet; I was the kid who wasn't athletic, which was a big thing at my grammar school. While my classmates played kickball or dodgeball at recess, I sat under the one tree in the schoolyard and read books.
When I read Blubber, I really felt for Linda; but the story is told through the eyes of one of the girls who bullies her, and for the first time in my childhood I was able to empathize with the kids who bullied me. They were all just trying to fit in, as none of them had the courage to stand out from the crowd.
Blubber was the first Judy Blume book I read, and after that I read everything she ever wrote. She got me through many more tough times during my youth. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge during fights with my siblings; Are You There God? It's me, Margaret during my first period; Forever... during the break-up with my high school boyfriend.
Judy Blume was the first children's author I read that stepped over boundaries, and wrote about the things children's authors weren't supposed to write about. She spoke truth, and knew that children wanted to hear the truth. I'm always appalled whenever I hear about her books getting challenged by libraries and schools. She writes about things children need to hear, especially when their parents won't talk to them.