When Judith Krug died on April 11, the children’s and young adult literature communities lost both a tireless supporter and a defender. As the director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom and the founder of Banned Books Week, Judith was on the front lines helping libraries keep books in their collections, everything from Harry Potter to Daddy’s Roommate; from Forever to The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. I was thrilled when Judith asked me to read at last year’s Banned Book Readout with Judy Blume and Lois Lowry both in attendence last year in Chicago. As many people have remarked since her death, Judith was a force of nature. When she wanted you to do something, it was both a privilege to be asked and a responsibility–you didn’t want to screw up anything that involved Judith Krug.
Judy Blume blogged about Judith Krug and quoted from a 1994 Washington Post interview with Krug that captures her pride in libraries and her philosophy when it came to reading habits of young people: “We’re the only country in the world where everybody has access to the library and everything in it. If you don’t like something, okay, tell your kids you don’t want them to read it. That works . . . Every once in a while, the kids are going to defy you. But so what?”
Judith got her own “freedom to read” from her mother, who once found her 12-year-old daughter reading a sex education book under the covers. “For God’s sake,” her mother said, “turn on the light so you don’t hurt your eyes.”