Category Archives: Banned Books

Tango and Iowa

I have a special place in my heart for And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnel, and not only because I dressed as Tango in the ICPL’s Banned Books march during this past year’s homecoming parade.

Before I came to SLIS, I remember reading all about Iowa’s own controversies with Tango in the Des Moines Register.  According to this article from the Iowa Independent, an Ankeny couple protested the book in East Elementary school, complaining it:

“attempts to “normalize” homosexuality to children who are too young to understand the “risky lifestyle.”

I remember thinking at the time that it must be an interesting job to defend illustrated books about penguins to parents, especially when the book depicted a real life penguin love story.

Today, I realize the challenges many librarians face when it comes to books challenged by parents and other users of library materials.  The ALA provides an extensive list of links titled Dealing with challenges to books and other library materials, which includes everything from policy writing to conducting challenge hearings.  One source I also found helpful was Joni Richards-Bodart’s Radical Reads, which is geared towards teens but includes a step by step chapter on how to deal with book challenges in a public library setting.

In the case of Ankeny, a nearly unanimous school board vote decided that And Tango Makes Three would stay on the shelves, and not move to a restricted area, as suggested by parents.  The final article I found detailing the challenge had the school board reconsidering the current policy for challenged library materials.  The board proposed including high school students as part of a group that addresses challenged materials, as well as making sure there were forms available for items parents would like to challenge.

As Brittney mentioned earlier, And Tango Makes Three is the recipient of multiple awards.  The content, illustrations, and warm-hearted story deserve the attention not of critics, but of penguin loving readers everywhere.



Filed under Banned Books

Banned Newbery Winners

The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to the books that are considered the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.  I choose to focus on Newbery award books that had also created controversies within schools and libraries, and explore the titles, the controversies, and my reactions to these books. Continue reading

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Controversial Children’s Books


I got to read a bunch of books that were award winners and controversial as well. The first book I read was And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parneff. This book is about two boy penguins who fall in love and live together in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. These two penguins behave exactly like the other penguin couples except for the fact that they are boys. But that doesn’t really matter. The two penguins only notice their difference when the other penguin couples start having babies. So the find a rock and pretend to take care of it. When nothing happens the zoo keeper intervenes and gives them an egg. And like all the other couples, these two care for the egg and love it and soon enough a baby is born! And Tango Makes Three won many awards including the 2006 ALA Notable Children’s Books.

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