The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom recently released its list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in 2010. (Press Release: here.) Back on top: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s charming picture book about penguins, And Tango Makes Three, illustrated by the stylin’ Henry Cole.
In case you’ve missed it, And Tango Makes Three is the story of Roy and Silo, two Central Park Zoo penguins who get together and raise an egg into a happy little girl penguin named Tango.
…Oh, and Roy and Silo are both male penguins, by the way. Male penguins who form a couple. And who raise an egg. On their own. Into a chick. Who, presumably, will want to kiss girl penguins after deciding that watching Daddy and Papa Penguin kiss each other is gross.
Or something. I don’t really claim to understand why this book has hovered at or near the top of the most-frequently-challenged books list since it was published in 2005. The OIF lists the reasons as “Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group.” Make of that what you will.
From start to finish, the entire list is as follows:
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
- Lush, by Natasha Friend
- What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
- Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
- Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
I’ll confess: I don’t understand what motivates a person to challenge a book or seek to get it banned. I mean, I get it in an intellectual sense: some folks genuinely believe this or that book is not appropriate for their children/nieces/nephews/etc., and that said kids shouldn’t have access to this book. I understand that.
But to make that decision for everyone who might pick the book up in a library, as if every reader is at the same level of cognitive or emotional development and/or possesses the same values, which may be injured in the same way by a single text? That makes no sense. I think reader-response theory is largely a crock, but even I will concede that different readers approach texts with the benefit of different life experiences behind them and differing opportunities to discuss controversial book content with others, and that for that reason, removing a book from everyone’s list of options strikes me as a singularly Bad Idea.
Besides which, penguins.