DAY 3: May 17th
And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole
With gratitude to Amy Pittel for donating this book that has allowed so many individuals, libraries, and communities to move From Censored to Celebrated!
“I’m thrilled to be able to help bring stories like these to kids who so need to find characters with whom they can identify.”
Three is a powerful number in this book due to baby penguin, Tango, born to Roy and Silo, a family of male penguins, at Central Park in New York City. According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), in 2014 it was also third on the list for attempting bans in communities across the USA. And it is my pleasure to celebrate And Tango Makes Three on Day 3 of our #aBookaDay preparations for the Celebration Tour in June.
I have to admit that I was surprised when I realized the extent that Tango had been censored, not just in its early years, but even through 2014. The reasons given for challenging it are listed as follows: “Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group….and promotes the homosexual agenda.” For these reasons, “Tango ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book for a record four years in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010.” Check out this timeline from the American Library Association for a visual history of banned books in the US.
As I mentioned, my family and I read this book without realizing thow much it has been banned over the past 9 years. Given that my daughter, Tulip, was born in 2008, and that she has a mother with a Master’s Degree in Sexuality Studies, it is not surprising that she didn’t find this book to be controversial or unusual. We both loved it, and had a great chat about it here.
While Tango engaged both my 6 year old and 16 month old, it also had the added benefit of finally helping us name our very large penguin – a much beloved and bemusing gift from Grandpa. (Our family penguin is now, yes, “Tango Lavender.”)
Tango also allowed us to further explore how families can grow and thrive when they have a safe environment where their strengths, innovations, and connections are recognized, and, yes, celebrated.
My Favorite Quote
Out came their very own baby! She had fuzzy white feathers and a funny black beak. Now, Roy and Silo were fathers. “We’ll call her Tango,” Mr. Gramzay decided, “because it takes two to make a Tango.”
Many people have read this book on video. Here Tango is engagingly read by staff at Seattle’s Sanislo Elementary School during Banned Book Week:
Here’s a fun, more adult video clip with staff and visitors to the Central Park Zoo about how Roy and Silo became a committed couple, and had baby Tango.
Finally, I appreciate the sentiment shared on this version of the video:
“Everyone should have the right to see themselves & their families in the books they read.”
How Do You Celebrate Diversity?
- Do you have a favorite book that celebrates diversity?
- Have you read the And Tango Makes Three?
- Why do you think it’s been challenged so often?
Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my a-book-a-day blog.
Thank you for your generosity!