tango makes three


LGBTQ* Children’s Literature / Books To Keep On Your Radar

And Tango Makes Three

(Still on the Top 100 Most  Banned Books list)


In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be..

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. Based on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who built a nest and hatched a chick together, this book tells a heartwarming story for all families.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.”

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

If I could recommend one book this Banned Book Week it would be and Tango makes three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.

Forget Howl, 1984, and The Satanic Verses. This touching picture book follows Roy and Silo, two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, on their true journey to become a family.

My kids love this book. I cried the first few times I read it. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s worth stopping by your local library and taking 5 minutes to read.

This book has topped the ALA’s 10 Most Challenged Books list nearly every year since it was published in 2005 (2011 and 2013 are the only years it failed to make the top 10).

So if you want to be extra scandalous and anti-establishment check out this cute story about penguins!


The Number 1 challenged book in America: Tango Makes Three.

Lemme spoil it for you. It’s about two gay penguins that wants to have a child, and hatch a little girl named Tango whose parents were overwhelmed by having two eggs rather than one. It’s seen as inappropriate for its age group for containing homosexuality and goes against religious viewpoints.

It’s a lovely story about family values and acceptance. It is also a true story and it deeply saddens me that this is how it’s treated.

“And Tango Makes Three” Tops List of Banned Books Published on September 28th, 2011 Written by: Mhaire F

This week is Banned Books Week, and we’re celebrating by showcasing various books which have been censored for a variety of reasons. Celebrate this week by picking up one of these books and reading.

The Central Park Zoo in New York has an unlikely but lovable pair of animals. This is a true story. It is so charming that Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell teamed up with well-known illustrator Henry Cole to create a children’s book out of the story. They called it “And Tango Makes Three.” It is nothing short of delightful.

It has been on the banned books list since it was published in 2005. It is usually listed as the number one most-banned title, although one year went fell to second place.

Roy and Silo are a pair of chinstrap penguins who reside in the penguin quarters. When the girl penguins noticed the boy penguins and when the boy penguins noticed the girl penguins, Roy and Silo, two boys, noticed each other. They bowed and sang to each other and made a nice nest. But it was a little empty. They then noticed that the other Penguins couples could do something they could not do. They tried and tried, even rolling an egg shaped rock and sitting on it for hours, but they could not hatch it.

One of the zookeepers noticed, and when another penguin couple produced two fertile eggs, he gave one of the m to Roy and Silo. The odds of having two fertile eggs raised to adulthood by one couple are slim. Twins are hard everywhere, it seems.

Roy and Silo knew ‘just what to do” and kept the egg warm, turning it over and over so all sides would benefit, and finally, their daughter Tango arrived. (Get it? Because it takes two to make a Tango?). Her fathers fed her and sang to her and snuggled her warm at night.

“She was the very first penguin to have two daddies.”

And there it is, the line that prompted the ban.

This book talks about love, and family, and the heartbreak of being childless. It talks about families who are not conventional and who love each other anyway. Indeed the inside fly cover reads: “In the zoo there are all kinds of families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.”

Now, as far as I could research, Tango, Roy and Silo are still a happy family. It took the kindness of a zookeeper, and an extra egg to create it. It makes me wonder what would happen if there were kind zookeepers in the wild. Maybe Tango would not have been the first penguin with two daddies, or two mommies.

The concept of homosexuality is the reason for the ban. Except the book isn’t about that, and it is now on my bookshelf, where any of my friends can read it, no matter their age. Children between the ages of six and nine have definite ideas about gender roles, but are willing to accept the idea of two daddies, or two mommies, or one mommy or one daddy. This is 2011. They live with all different kinds of families now.

I showed it to a 13-year-old friend of mine, and he flipped through the pages trying to find the reason for the ban. He couldn’t do it. He didn’t see anything wrong with Roy and Silo. I am so grateful for that, and hope that many more kids see this book the same way. Better yet, that their parents do.