How edgy am I? Just so on the cusp of what is hot, that I selected and suggested the book And Tango Makes Three mere weeks before it appears on The Colbert Report.
Apparently, a couple of parents in Missouri objected to this book being in their public library, and somehow the news feeds picked up the story. The library did not remove the book from its collection, but did move it to the nonfiction section, so it would be less likely to “blindside” somebody.
Ah, so many layers to this story. Where to even begin?
There is the sociological implication of our worries about gay penguins taking over the world. For an angry take on that, perhaps, you might go to another site, maybe Prometheus Unleashed. Though I would looooooove to go into it, that’s not what I’m about here at MotherReader.
There is the response of the library to consider, which was not wrong, but was pretty meek. I mean, two parents complain, and you move the book? What if I object that I don’t want my preschooler to inadvertently pick up a book about Noah’s Ark? Should all of those books go into the religion section? There are picture books that deal with the death of a parent or of a pet. Maybe they should all go in the section on grief? Where do you want to draw the line on what is unobjectionable? To the library’s credit, at least they didn’t get rid of the book. So that is something.
There is the mindset of the parents to explore. It is a public libary holding books for all the public. If you don’t like a book, if it offends you in some way... don’t check it out. It is really that simple. You can exercise your parental control to say, “I do not wish to read this book to my child.” So. Don’t. Read. It. To. Them.
There is the worry of introducing delicate subjects to children. Remember, parents, children will ask you questions based on what they are capable of processing, and you, as a parent, can answer accordingly. A child may listen to this book and ask why it was that two boy penguins wanted to stay together. We as parents can say, “Sometimes a man may love a man or a woman may love a woman, and they want to be together.” We do not have to go into the whole gay culture or what a man and a man do together in bed, any more then we would explain the whole bar scene or what a man and a woman do together in bed. When sex comes up with children, I would go with the “when a man and woman love each other very much...” talk, not the “when a man and a woman get drunk and they feel this special itch...” talk.
Then there is the book itself, which I stand by as a lovely, gentle story about adoption and love. You could use it as a springboard to talk about the diversity of the world, but you don’t have to do so. I would be willing to bet that four out of five preschoolers wouldn’t ask a single question about the two boy penguins. So it doesn’t need to be that worrisome. The authors told the story, they didn't put thoughts in the penguins heads. We are making the interpretation ourselves. There is no gay penguin love agenda.
What is most important here what we can’t forget is how incrediblly cutting edge I am to have suggested the book in the first place.