When is a kid old enough for this classic?

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.

If you are a reader, and happen to be female, you’ve probably read this book at some point in your childhood. I think I read it around age ten, possibly even sooner. I remember it making the rounds on the playground. Not that the subject matter was taboo or anything, but it was a hot title and money wasn’t easy to come by and the library had like two copies in circulation. That being said, many of us shared the copies we had, folding down pages for discussion later.

Let’s face it though, reading it was better than learning the stuff from our parents.

The other day, I got to thinking about whether The Girl is old enough to read it. I remember reading it as a kid and saying to myself… aha… now I get it. Blume takes all of that tween angst and somehow makes sense of it. But what was good for us back in the day, is not necessarily right for our kids today. It is a book that I absolutely want her to read, but is ten old enough?

I think I will probably re-read it, just to be sure. Plus, I heard that it has been updated for today’s tween but if you remember the book at all, do you think ten is old enough?

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33 thoughts on “When is a kid old enough for this classic?”

  1. I think my oldest daughter read it when she was ten. I’m not sure how old I was, but somewhere in that range. I have been giving it to fifth graders at my school as well. I so wish Blume would keep writing. Her books are ones I read and re-read so many times.

  2. You know, now that I think abut it, I don’t think I ever read this! I’m glad that they’ve continued to update it, though, because it has always just seemed like such an important book. I think when it comes to kids/teenagers and reading it’s not so much age as maturity, I’m sure you’ll be able to tell by re-reading if it’s something she can handle 🙂

  3. I read the book as an adult so I do remember it. What I don’t remember is the sensibilities (or lack thereof) of a 10 year old girl. Is The Girl interested in reading it?

    1. As far as I know, she is not aware of this particular book. She has read other books by Blume though. I brought it up because she’s been asking a lot of questions lately. We talk all the time but then it occurred to me that she might enjoy a book like this one. The Girl is right on target, if you ask me, when it comes to development but there are some girls in her class that have chests that are quite large. It’s made her feel as if she is behind. She started school when she was 4 so she has always been on the young side of her classmates. 

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  4. I read this book in the 5th grade, I think, when it was passed around my class and a bunch read parts together. My mother was the type who thought this was a book that should be hidden away, not to be read by me until I was in my 20s! I think your idea to read it yourself before giving it to your daughter is a very good one, just to remember exactly what’s in the text. I hope you’ll post your thoughts about it after you read it. It’s been so long, I don’t quite remember the full story!

  5. I read this one when I was in 3rd grade and it was very helpful as I had a mother who didn’t talk about such things AT ALL. She cried when I got my period at 12 because she thought I was too young. Anyhow, now that my own daughter is 10 we’ve already talked through it all and so maybe Margaret isn’t as needed, but I wouldn’t see any harm in her reading it.

    1. That’s how it was with me too. My mom didn’t talk to me much about anything and the schools back then didn’t talk about it either so it was what you learned on the playground. I just remembered getting my hands on this book and feeling like I wasn’t a freak after all. 

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  6. If your daughter is asking questions already, and if you’re having to ask yourself if it is time, it likely is. Teens and preteens are aware of and encounter such issues before the previous generstion did. It is always better for parents to lead the way in education instead of hearing from peers who dont have years of wisdom and experience in what’s right.

    While I never read this book as a teen, my mother was always open and honest with me about my body, growing up, and such. From personal experience, I feel that I’m wiser and made better life choices than other girls because my mother didn’t hesitate to talk about things when I asked. Education is empowerment for girls.

    Good luck. I know it is a tough issue to handle.

    Oh, and if you’re unsure about this book, try the American Girl company’s books. There is one about bodies. I can’t remember the title. It is geared towards preteens.

    1. The American Girl book is what started it all. That and the fact that most of her classmates have chests that require bra wearing. We talk about stuff all the time and I have already set her straight on a few issues. Last summer it was deodorant and a few months  ago it was all about tampons!!

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  7. Oh okay. Haha. All I know is that openness is probably best. It is always better to talk with mom. She will be better off for it. How are girls developing so quickly these days?

    In all seriousness, I’m sure you’re doing everything just fine. 🙂

    1. Doctors have told me that it’s because of the hormones in milk. My daughter has never been a milk drinker so that could very well be. 

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      1. I was vegan for a while and soy wreaked havoc with my hormones. After that I did more research and hormone levels are maddeningly high in American food markets. If The Girl does read it, please let us know if she’d recommend it to others!

  8. I haven’t read this book yet but I should make time for it. Part of me wishes kids of today discovered these books the same way we did. But I agree it is better for parents to be around when they discover these books so that the kids can get some good discussion out of it.

    1. Oh, I was reading Stephen King too but that came a little later for me. I think my first King was read around age 13. 

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  9. It has been so long since I read this book that I cannot even gage the recommended age. I think I need to re-read this one too. My daughter is still a youngin’ but I am already making a list of books for her to read when she gets older … maybe to have out on a shelf where she can select them herself. 🙂

  10. I probably read this book and Flowers in the Attic about the same age, likely ~ 5th grade. Yikes! Give her the Bloom; how lucky (?) that she is open to conversing this with you. I don’t remember my mom giving me the ‘talk’ though I know we discussed it once and never again. I was more embarrassed than she was, maybe. Now I over hear girls talking about these issues in the hall/classroom and just recall how horrified I was at that age to have anything even mentioned out loud. Or a bra strap showing! Aghast. Oh how times have changed.

    1. The Girl started asking me things last year. Her one friend, is developing a lot faster than she is and she has asked me about stuff she has seen in the restroom. I guess these girls are not taught how to dispose of things properly and really,  elementary schools do not even have proper receptacles for such things so I can see why. 

      The chest thing is funny. She wanted me to buy her a sports bra for track. I explained that such a thing is used to support what you’ve got, hence… she does not need one but she said ALL the girls are wearing them so she is sporting a sports bra at track. But… the other night at pick-up she was also sportin’ a chest to go with it so I suspect some paper towels made it into that bra!

      I was so mortified when I had to wear a bra at age 12. Boys snapped the straps and I felt like I was wearing a vice. And  don’t even get me going on junior high, when some guy went into my purse and took out all of my feminine products and  stuck them on my chair. 

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  11. Can you believe I’ve never read this one?! At 10 I was likely still reading Babysitter’s Little Sister type of books. I do remember the very first book I read that contained cuss words–I was in 6th grade so maybe 11. I was fascinated and it felt so taboo. I think I need to read this one to see what the fuss is about!

    1. Since you have girls, I think you should read it. It was a book that got passed from one person to the next. My friends and I  camped out under trees at recess to discuss it. It’s not like it was banned but it mentions all the stuff that growing girls wonder about. My mother was not one to talk to me about that stuff so I had to figure stuff out on my own or read books like this one. 

      I am curious to see how it was updated for today. Because back in the day, I seem to recall it mentioned sanitary belts.  The horror!! 

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  12. If she has read The Care and Keeping of You, and is asking questions, then I think she is ready. I read this book when I was around 10 (and can you believe I STILL have my original copy?). I re-read it when my daughter was that age, and it still really makes a lot of sense. Not just about periods, friends, boys, etc. but making your own grown up choices, or in Margaret’s case, about religion. I think girls nowadays are so much more advanced than we were because there is always a girl in the group that has older siblings and they see and hear things. Thus THEY are the ones educating all the others. My strategy was to get to my daughter before they did!

  13. I honestly do not remember this one at all. I know I read it. As for your girl being too young, I say no. I have some horrific memories from my own experiences and did not want my daughter to experience anything like that. She and I have been talking about body issues/changes for at least two years now. She knows everything. She will be well-prepared for when she has this same discussion in health class this spring.

  14. I remember I read Forever in junior high and I’d already read all the other Judy Blume books at that point, so maybe I read it at the end of elementary age. Honestly, I don’t remember what’s in that one, other than the spina bifida stuff. I’ve heard that they keep revising the books, so I don’t know what’s in “Margaret” now. It could have more mature issues. Did you read the revised one? I’m wondering why you want to recommend it to her. I think there are some really good nonfiction books out there that explain the stuff she needs to know.

    1. Oops. Now I remember. Deenie is the one about where the girl wears the brace. I think “Margaret” is for younger girls than Deenie.

    2. It’s like a rite of passage. I need to read the revised version first. I have no idea how much it’s changed. 

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