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Banned Books Week: And Tango Makes Three


Greetings, and welcome to Banned Books Week! For each day of Banned Books Week, this blog will be highlighting a famous banned or challenged book. The campaign to highlght milestones in the history of banned and challenged books and promote intellectual freedom was spearheaded by library activist Judith Krug. She once said "You should have access to ideas and information regardless of your age. If anyone is going to limit or guide a young person, it should be the parent or guardian—and only the parent or guardian." Today's title And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell caused quite a stir among parents and library patrons when it was first published in 2005.

And Tango Makes ThreeAnd Tango Makes ThreeWho would have ever thought that a touching story about a penguin family who lived in the Central Park Zoo could cause such a tangle? The picture book And Tango Makes Three by authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell tells the true story of three Chinstrap penguins—Roy, Silo, and their adopted daughter, Tango. The book opens with a bucolic scene of Central Park and its Zoo as an idyllic place for children and families, including the zoo animals and their families. The Central Park Zookeeper observed that they had a pair of male penguins, Roy and Silo, who liked to do everything together. They built a nest together like the other mating penguins, but could not lay an egg. So one day, the Zookeeper bought the pair an extra egg that needed to be cared for, produced by another penguin couple. Roy and Silo took turns sitting on it to keep it warm—until it hatched. The Zookeeper named the chick Tango—because it takes two to make a Tango. Roy and Silo doted on her, and Tango became the first penguin chick at the zoo to have two daddies.

Despite the happy ending to the tuxedo-adorned creatures tale, Tango challenged some Americans' ideas and assumptions about homosexuality, age-appropriateness of the material, and raised the thorny question about what makes a family. Since its publication by Simon and Shuster in 2005, And Tango Makes Three has topped the ALA's 10 Most Challenged Books List between 2006 and 2010.

Re-shelving the book was one way that libraries tried to get around the "problem" with Tango. Rolling Hills (Mo.) Library Director Barbara Read moved the book from the popular picture book section to the less-browsed non-fiction area when parents complained about the gay themes in the title. School Superintendent Edgar Hatrick III of Loudon, VA made a decision to move Tango from the Sugarland Elementary School to an area only accessible by parents and teachers after a parent complained about gay themes in the book. What helped Tango remain available in school and public libraries in some cases was the precedent set by the decision in Island Trees School District Board of Education v. Pico in 1981, which ruled that a Board of Education's decision to ban certain books from its school libraries violated First Amendment protections. The challenges against this book have been so profligate, Dr. Marta L. Magnuson, Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recently carried out a study analyzing the motives behind these various challenges to And Tango Makes Three, published in the journal School Library Media Research in January 2011. But if penguins can survive the brutal Antarctic winter, they can surely survive the challenges of access to And Tango Makes Three.


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It's now also banned in Singapore

Sad but true, the book is now also banned in Singapore.

Thank you for sharing,

Thank you for sharing, Charmaine!


Ban this? Wow~and how many Shades of a Grey copies does the NYPL have? At least a hundred I'm sure. So many animals are hate to say it. Bisexuals. Watch some BBC omg read a book. Only adults who think oh that's so wrong kids of that age who read this only see oh look their taking care of a baby. Children are taught not to understand or accept by adults. (Btw I'm a pastor's kid) look past if you don't like something or share in a non confrontational way.

What the hell?!

It's unfair how this book about a gay animal couple adopting a baby is so wrong, Fifty Shades of Grey wasn't banned but this has to be?! There is a book about the Kardasian family and it wasn't banned and it is sexual!!! The society really needs to - off about gays... And I'm a christian and I'm bisexual and I love gays!

And Tango Makes Three.

Celeste, I agree with you, and am too a Christian, and truly feel that if you love as Christ did, you don't hate anyone. Additionally, As parents, we all have the right to educate our own children regardless of what a book says, so it should not matter if they have access to it. If anything, the book, regardless of you stance, could be used to educate. Additionally, no one group should have the power to make decisions for everyone else. If we all want equal rights, then we also have to support the rights of others, and that means regardless if we agree with them or not. When we cross a line and open up books to be banned, then we open up all books to be banned. Additionally, then where do we draw the line? What standards do we use, and who decides what those standards are? If we want to protect our right to read what we want, then that means protecting others right to read what the want to regardless of our moral objections or opinions. There is power in education, not in banning. If you don’t like something than educate people to your opinion, but don’t force others and take away their choices.

And Tango Makes Three Banned

As a school librarian I can tell you that many books that you see on the "banned" or challenged list are books that were written for kids and teens. The reason is that a book that is assigned to a student that a parent deems inappropriate due to sex, language, etc, gets parents all up in arms. Our district absolutely has Tango on our shelves, and as a Banned Books Week activity, I read it aloud to my 7th graders and told them that the book was recently banned in Singapore. However, banning this kids' picture book can't be compared with Fifty Shades, as Fifty Shades, books about the Kardasians', etc, aren't marketed to children. You'd better believe that if we had Fifty Shades in the school library it would be challenged.


Parents really shouldn't be getting upset and instead learn this: People who like the same gender as theirs are not "wrong" in any way. You don't choose what gender you like. We are born this way. I have an Aunt who is gay and she is one of the nicest people I know. She is a great role model and I love her wife, who is also one of my favorite people on this Earth. People are made fun of for who they like, but think about if the roles were reversed? What is people who were straight were criticized like they do to others? I know people are hearing this a lot now a days, but we really just need to accept people for who they are because we all have something we would like to change about ourselves, but this is not something anybody should be ashamed about. This is how we are born and instead of fighting it and doing what people say we are "supposed" to do, we should follow our heart and soul and listen to what it tells us is right. We are who we are and no one on this Earth can change that.

I have friends and family who

I have friends and family who are gay and I love them dearly but I think it is wrong though I know gays have no choice and are born that way. I feel it's a matter of defining tolerance and acceptance. It seems the gay faction is forcing people and legislation to accept rather than tolerate. Though that book should not be banned I know it should not be forced as part of their curriculum. Lifestyles are dictated by a person's morals, scruples, values and other traits that are traditionally taught,shared and instilled by their parent who are charged with the nurturing and guidance in giving their kinds a foundation and blueprint for their moral compass and ultimately influence their persona. Schools have no right usurping that responsibility from the parents just for the sake and agenda of political correctness. In the end, forcing someone rather than convincing someone is a hollow victory.

Have you not read?

"People who like the same gender as theirs are not "wrong" in any way." Have you not read the Bible? Homosexuality is CLEARLY an abomination to God. End of story.


if you wouldn't mind sharing the passage that so "clearly" as you put it, states that it's an abomination to God? Excuse me, but who are you to tell someone what an omnipotent being thinks? You "clearly" are unqualified to say so.

Thank you for your comments

Thank you for your comments regarding respecting others, Trinity.

Bigotory is the real Wrong!

Homophobes and transphobes have no heart or any business speaking! How dare they call teaching kids about this stuff indoctrination! If they are going to tell their kids this is bad and should not support or learn about it, They're just indoctrinating their children into becoming straight up bigots! Together they're a heartless and disgusting community! I support same sex marriage from day 1, and I will not let anybody tell me what to think. I stand up for what I believe for!

Homosexuality...why is it a matter of debate?

I'm studying this book for my English class and honestly, I really love how normal it is trying to make homosexuality. It is being addressed so casually. The fact that this book is attempting to build people's attitudes from such a young age is great. Homosexuality, asexuality, any sort of sexuality should be openly accepted in the world and 'Tango makes three' is one of the first steps towards making this happen. I really do not understand why this book is banned. All types of sexuality should be normal. Humans are just expressing themselves and they should do so however they want to.

Thanks for expressing that

Thanks for expressing that view, Extended.

Yes! Thank you!

Yes! Thank you! Normalnormalnormal is key! It litterally does not matter as long as you're in love!

Happy ending

Despite the happy ending to the tuxedo-adorned creatures tale, Tango challenged some Americans' ideas and assumptions about homosexuality, age-appropriateness of the material, and raised the thorny question about what makes a family

I think it's crazy to ban

I think it's crazy to ban these books. Children need to make there own choices, even if it's something small, like choosing whether they want to read a book. I also think it is vital that children are exposed to homosexuality so they can make their own decisions about it. Children need to develop their own ideas about the world. I don't get why someone could be too young to know that love is not re3stricted to boy/girl. It's a simple concept, and it should be some they just assume. This book should just be a cute story, not a huge fight over censorship.

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