BANNED: And Tango Makes Three
And Tango Makes Three is a picture book based on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who raised a chick together. Published in 2005, the book has been consistently challenged for years. Challenges have included complaints that the story is “unsuitable for young children” and has "homosexual overtones.” Others have said the book "is based on one of those subjects that is best discovered by students in another time or in another place." Some parents have also requested the book be placed in a section for "alternative or non-traditional families."
Cameron Carter teaches second grade at Slate Hill Elementary in Worthington, Ohio. This is the first year he’ll be teaching And Tango Makes Three.
Were you surprised to learn that this book had been challenged?
It didn’t surprise me at all. Any book that has any type of social situation where it might be different than your own has the potential to be challenged.
Why did you want to teach it?
One of our main standards in second grade is creating a community. When these students go out in the world — especially in Columbus, which is a big city — they are going to be surrounded with all different types of people. And yes, they might not agree with someone’s lifestyle choice, but they still need to be able to accept people for who they are. If someone were to challenge my teaching of this book, that’s what I would explain to them.
How do you know when your class — in this case very young children — are ready for subject matter like this?
I think it depends on the dynamic of the class. I think it depends on the students that you have — and you can gauge that in the first few weeks of school: Are they still in that immature stage, or do you feel that your class is ready as a community to talk about a concept or an issue? Like with any good instruction, it’s based on when the students are ready, and you can tell that by their interactions with each other.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Read an interview with Robert P. Doyle, editor of the American Library Association’s Banned Books, a collection of thousands of titles that have been subject to censorship challenges.
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Read about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Read about Of Mice and Men
Originally published September 2017.