Each year the American Library Association compiles a list of the most frequently challenged books. A challenge is defined as a "formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness." And Tango Makes Three tops ALA's 2006 list for "homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group." The award-winning picture book, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, is based on the true story of two male penguins parenting an egg in the Central Park Zoo, New York City.
Loudoun County, VA recently joined the list of school districts that have pulled this book off library shelves, although copies are still available in the professional collection at 16 elementary buildings. In other states, the book has been moved from the Easy section to non-fiction or may only be checked out with parental permission.
A few of our teachers are doing research units on penguins. I've shown them "And Tango Makes Three" and explained why it is considered controversial in some districts. The book is shelved in our Easy Fiction section and will remain there unless and until it is formally challenged. No titles have been removed during my years as SLMS and I don't anticipate any great outcry over Tango.
We have many variations on the concept of family in our school, and I don't think the children will be shocked by the story of two loving penguins sharing parenthood. Envious, maybe, but not shocked.
"It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons." -Johann Schiller
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