Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Book Week 2008

September 27-October 4, 2008

Banned Book Week was established in 1982 in order to raise awareness of the number of books that are challenged in schools, libraries and bookstores every year. Books are challenged by individuals or groups who feel the books are too sexual, violent, profane; think the books offensively portray racial or religious groups; and even think the books portray homosexuals positively.

The following is a list of the top 10 most challenged books in 2007 according to the American Library Association:

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I decided to celebrate my freedom to read by reading two books from this list during Banned Book Week. I selected And Tango Makes Three, a picture book by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole and the young adult novel, Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, both of which I borrowed from the public library one day last week. I specifically chose And Tango Makes Three because it was the single most challenged book in 2007 and also because since it is a picture boo, it would be an easy book for every member of my family to read and discuss together. This was obviously also an opportunity to explain the concept of banned books to our daughters, why people feel books should be banned, and why it is so important to celebrate their freedom to read every day.

And Tango Makes Three is a picture book whose story is based on a true story about two male penguins named Roy and Silo in the Central Park Zoo in New York City who together, care for an abandoned egg and the baby penguin that hatches from it. It is a simple story with the simple message that there are all kinds of happy, loving families in the world.

I have to say it's a good feeling when your nine year older finds absolutely nothing wrong with a baby having two fathers and doesn't quite understand why someone wouldn't want to read this sweet story about a baby penguin being cared for and loved by its parents.

I have to say it's also a good feeling when your thirteen year old is shocked and outraged to learn that anyone would even suggest to ban any book from schools, libraries or bookstores simply because they disapprove of its content.

To find out more about Banned Books Week, visit the American Library Association HERE or The Banned Books Week website HERE.

Here is a picture of me reading And Tango Makes Three with my daughter:
Look for a post on my thoughts on Olive's Ocean later this week. Now its your turn. 

Celebrate your First Amendment rights and read a banned book!


  1. I need to find a copy of And Tango Makes Three--I love this picture of you and your daughter reading together! I am proud that I had the honor to read several of these books (Huck Finn, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple) in my middle and high schools over the years.

    This week I will read The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Thank you for the reminder, Christine, and long live our right to free speech! I always think of that scene from Field of Dreams when Annie stands up in the PTA meeting against the banning of books.

    And you have two very smart girls there :)

  2. I love the photo of you reading with your daughter. :-)

  3. Great picture of y'all reading together. I'm happy that you are not only promoting Banned Book Week but are teaching your daughters about the importance of fighting for our freedom of speech.

    I love And Tango Makes Three. (I love a lot of books on the list but I love the sweetness of the penguins.)

  4. Awww such a nice picture! When I heard they wanted to ban this book, I was sickened. Good for you and your girls! :D

  5. Thea :: I imagine And Tango Makes Three is fairly easy to find in a public library. Let me know what you think of The Chocolate War. I considered reading it as well, but the message reminded me a lot of The Third Wave--the nazism movement experiment by high school teacher Ron Jones in 1974 which I'm familiar with because it was one of the school plays two years ago. I'm sure The Chocolate War is different, but I wanted to try something different. And I admit, faster to read with a simpler message!

    Thanks for the compliments on my girls. I think they're pretty smart, too! Except that little one is having an awful lot of trouble learning her times tables.

    Jace :: Thank you!! Everyone loves Mommy's reading chair.

    Annmarie :: Thank you! And Tango Makes Three is so adorable. My little one and I named all the baby penguins in the book. I also love the illustrations because we've been to the Central Park zoo, so it's neat to see where we've been in real life in a picture book.

  6. Kate :: Thanks! It is such a sweet story. And such a gentle way to show that it just takes two loving, nurturing, competent companions to successfully raise a child.

    And Tango Makes Three is a more story of adoption than anything else to me.

  7. I read about the "scandal" over And Tango makes three a while back (at the SmartBitches, I believe?) and I'm still wondered why some people feel threatened by things that a)make others happy, and b)don't impinge in their own happiness, way of life, or health in any way.

  8. I love the fact that you got And Tango Makes Three and had the whole family read it. It's a great idea that I just may have to copy. (love the picture!)

    Can't wait to see what you think of the other.

    And tell your oldest that she's not the only one who's outraged.

  9. Christine, you continue to amaze me here at your log with these truly wonderful and informative posts. It's a piss poor shame that anyone would try to ban books.

  10. I have reserved a copy of And Tango Makes Three from my library (yes, it has reached NZ :) I'm rather confused about why the book was challenged so frequently if it was a true the people challenging the book want to erase the truth?

    I remember that scene from Field of Dreams Thea. It was a great speech by Annie.


    PS That is a lovely photo BTW Christine of you and your daughter!

  11. This is a really thoughtful post, Christine (as usual). I love the photo of you and your daughter, and I really salute you for making sure your kids understand why banning books is a bad thing.

    You're a good mommy, and a responsible citizen, my friend! Well done, you!

  12. Gotta go read that book! thanks for the suggestion.


  13. azteclady :: I think I first learned of the so called "scandal" over And Tango Makes Three at SmartBitches as well. It's disheartening to know that there are so many ignorant and intolerant people in the world. And frustrating, too, because it seems impossible to make them change their minds. :(

    Tracy :: Definitely borrow this book from the library and have your girls read it. It's a very cute story.

    kmont :: Aw, thanks for the wonderful compliment on my blogwork! What can I say, I gotta keep my fans happy! LOL

    orannia :: I'm glad you'll finally get a chance to read And Tango Makes Three! I guess this book gets challenged often because there are a lot of people who are homo-phopic and don't want little boys deciding to be gay after reading this? Or those who think homosexuality is a sin and shouldn't be glorified in a children's book? It's sad really. People like that don't know the meaning or power of real love.

    PS Glad you like the photo! =)

  14. Aymless :: Aw. Thanks for the birthday wishes. I'm hanging on to my 30s by a thread here people. Eep!

  15. Christine! I remember reading The Wave when I was in middle school! Freaky. The whole groupthink phenom is a scary thing.


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