Banned Books Week: Two mommies, two daddies, and homosexual penguins

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to most of you that I’ve chosen these books to highlight during Banned Books Week. I had actually never read any of them until today, and had only even heard of one of them.

I went to the library this morning and was able to check out two of the three. For the third, I found a complete reading on YouTube.

I’m going to write tonight’s post a little differently than the previous ones this week. Because all three of these books have been challenged/banned for pretty much the same reason, I’m going to discuss each book and then discuss the challenges all together.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
This is the one that I had heard of before. It’s also the one I found on YouTube. Here is the reading if you are interested:

“Heather Has Two Mommies” was written in 1989 after Newman was approached by a woman who wanted her to write a book about a family like her own . . . in her words, “two happy dykes and their daughter”. Newman could not find a publisher for her book and ended up self-publishing in 1990.

The book is not “in your face” about anything. It describes Heather’s home and family. Heather starts preschool and she learns about all different kinds of families – those with a mom and dad, those with step-parents, those with only one parent, those with siblings and those without . . . and so on and so forth.

Heather learns that dynamics do not make up a family, love makes a family. And all families are special.

Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I just read this book a couple of hours ago. Until I started doing my research for Banned Books Week, I had never heard of “Daddy’s Roommate,” which is interesting to me considering that it was published right around the same time as “Heather Has Two Mommies”.

In the grand scheme of children’s books, it’s okay. I don’t think there is anything particularly engaging about the book. “Heather Has Two Mommies” was definitely a more interesting book.

“Daddy’s Roommate” very simply describes a little boy whose parents got divorced and now his daddy has a “roommate” . . . and they do all of the things together that a couple does. This one does define “gay” whereas “Heather Has Two Mommies” avoided all terminology.

The general theme of the book was similar to the other . . . that love makes a family.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
This is my favorite, and I am definitely buying this one as soon as I can!

I read “And Tango Makes Three” on the train this afternoon, and I actually started to choke up. Here’s a reading from YouTube:

“And Tango Makes Three” was published in 2005. It’s the true story of two male penguins from the Central Park Zoo in NY who had no interest in the female penguins come mating season. They spent all of their time together, but eventually became visibly upset when they watched all of the other couples hatching eggs. They tried to hatch their own when they found an egg-shaped rock, but of course, it didn’t work.

When the zookeeper noticed that a female penguin laid two fertile eggs, knowing that she could only take care of one of them, he gave the other one to Roy and Silo, the two male penguins. Together, Roy and Silo cared for their egg and it hatched, and they raised Tango together.

It is an incredibly sweet, and I repeat, true story.

————————————

So, obviously, all of these books were banned for “promoting” homosexually, which, of course, none of them actually do. What each book does is show kids about real life families.

I recommend that you watch the video on this site. It’s an interview with Judith Krug from the American Library Association. She makes an extremely poignant statement. “It’s there so people can choose to read it. Nobody has to read something that’s in a library. Nobody has to buy something that’s in a bookstore. But you have choice, and that’s what this is all about. And if the book isn’t there, you don’t have the opportunity to choose to read it.”

That is exactly why I have an objection to challenged and banned (or removed – however you want to word it) books. No one is forcing parents to check out “Heather Has Two Mommies”, “Daddy’s Roommate”, or “And Tango Makes Three”. When it comes to PUBLIC libraries and PUBLIC schools, I take serious issue when my child’s rights to read certain materials are taken away.

If your child goes to a religious school or other private school, by all means, challenge whatever the hell you like. But in a public setting, I want my child to be exposed to as much as possible that can help learn and think for herself.

As for the “promotion of homosexuality” . . . give me a break! I’m so tired of that argument. One of the little boys in my daughter’s class last year was being raised by two mommies. She never gave it a second thought. Better yet, she often outright forgets that her cousin is being raised by two women . . . pretty much because it’s just not a big deal. And believe me, my daughter is as boy crazed as they come!

My sister-in-law and her partner have been raising my nephew together for what feels like forever. My nephew is 9 and I want to say that they’ve been together for 6 years (Joi, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!). They both love and adore my nephew. He is well cared for and happy. And that is all that matters.

I want him to be able to pick up a book in library that contains characters and families he can relate to. He deserves that. So does my daughter’s classmate from last year. So do all of the other children who grow up with two mommies or two daddies.

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11 responses to this post.

  1. I agree with you.
    Regardless of a person’s feelings toward homosexuality, it does exist and the kids that have parents who have a partner DO deserve to have good role models and books as well as other materials to read. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it was the other way around…What if homosexuality was the accepted norm and all the books talked about that kind of family and there were none or almost no books showing what a heterosexual family was like….I think I would have felt like an outsider in that aspect of my life. Everyone needs to be able to read about someone like themselves….
    And like you said, parents can make the decision to not let their kids read a book for their own reasons or challenge books in a private school setting, but as far as public schools…let the other parents make THEIR own choices for their kids and make them for yours….
    The one on here I had heard the name of before was, “And Tango makes Three” but I didn’t really know what it’s about. The story sounds sweet….I’m sure it’s not the only case where an animal has chosen to stick with his own sex instead of the opposite….It’s the animal kingdom, is it that big of a deal?
    I can actually think of worse situations that have weirded me out….like how a mother dog can have a puppy and then the puppy grows up and uh….gets with the momma….completely accepted as natural but if humans did THAT…uh…Incest!
    People should just take a chill pill….

    Reply

    • Ugh, I typed a reply and then lost it because hit a button! (This is why I should not type while I’m on the phone :P)

      Continuing with the incestuous dogs . . . when animals give birth to a dead baby, many of them eat them . . . uh, cannibalism anyone? 😀

      “Everyone needs to be able to read about someone like themselves.”

      Yes!

      How cool is it when you read a book and you feel like you’re reading about yourself?

      Reply

  2. Yes, 6 wonderful years.

    For those who are interested , my son doesn’t know his biological father. My partner has been more than I ever could of looked for in a parent. He is accepting of all races, ages, shapes and sizes. He is also very confident to explain his family dynamics to anyone who is interested (and even those who aren’t). It’s books like these that makes him feel accepted and normal. Banning books like this should be a crime.

    Reply

    • 🙂

      In the first draft of this post (the one I wrote in my head, but never actually made it to the computer screen), there was a lot more info about you, Toya and Jayden 😛 . . . Including the bs with his biological father.

      But that’s one of the things I say to people . . . do you really think it would be better for him to be raised by a man who did what he did? Or rather him have two people, who both happen to be female, love him and care for him and do everything in the world for him?

      My choice is easy!

      Hugs to all three of you!! Love you bunches!!

      Reply

  3. No book has been banned in the USA for about half a century. Fanny Hill got that honor a long time ago. Challenged books in schools that are removed is different from banning. Setting aside that Banned Books Week is propaganda, the creator of BBW said:

    “On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.”

    See: “Banned Books Week Propaganda Exposed by Progressive Librarian Rory Litwin; ALA Censors Out Criticism of Its Own Actions in a Manner Dishonest to the Core.”

    See also: “Celebrate ‘Librarians Trying to Make Themselves Feel Important’ Week!,” by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 26 September 2011.

    Be sure to see a “banned” author admitting the ALA fakes its top 10 challenged book list for political reasons. See: “ Banned Books Week is Gay Promotion? Author Admits ALA Faked 2010 Top 10 Challenged Book List .”

    Oh yes, the ALA’s “censorship map” is plagiarized. By the ALA. And the ALA knows it and still uses it. See “How ALA Plagiarism Becomes Truth Through the Media Lens; SafeLibraries in USA Today.”

    Reply

    • Enough of the copy and paste comments already. You left half of the exact same comment on my post the other day and through my research, it’s been on several other blogs as well.

      In fact, I’m quite certain you didn’t even bother to read anything I wrote because the vast majority of the time I call the books “challenged” not “banned” and when I do say “banned” I refer to the specific place where they were removed.

      I don’t care what you call it – banned, challenged, removed from a location, whatever . . . it’s censorship and I have a problem with it.

      Why the hell do you have a problem with anyone bringing any kind of awareness books and reading? If nothing else, through my posts over the past few days, I have stirred several conversations about books that others were not aware of . . . and they have made me aware of books that are now on my reading list.

      What is the issue with that?

      As far as I’m concerned, ANYTHING that makes books and reading an ongoing discussion is a good thing.

      You are the one spouting propaganda.

      I’m done with this.

      Reply

  4. I agree with what Sharon said… “Everyone needs to be able to read about someone like themselves….” That’s one of the best parts of reading – finding a character that you can relate to. And it would be sad for any child to miss out on that.

    Reply

    • Exactly! I love reading a book and being able to put myself directly into a character’s shoes . . . it helps me envision the entire book as if I were that character . . . it adds to beautiful escapism 🙂

      Reply

  5. Dayle – I have been *loving* your Banned Books posts, just wonderful. And I so love the irony that through these Banned Books, you are introducing me to a whole lot of great books to discover–this Tango one especially looks amazing, cannot wait to get it. I started getting choked up just thinking of that lovely pair trying to hatch eggs (!) that I can tell I will probably cry reading the book to the kids. But like a lot of things, it will be so worth it (and my kids are used to me crying over many lovely children’s books . . .!) Thanks for taking the time to review and research these books that clearly deserve our attention! -A

    Reply

    • Thank you so much, Alexandra!

      When I first decided to write something for Banned Books Week, I was just going to write one post at some point during the week. The more I researched, the more I just could not fathom only writing one post!

      “And I so love the irony that through these Banned Books, you are introducing me to a whole lot of great books to discover”

      That is awesome because that is exactly the point! I’ve been reading posts from other bloggers about banned books and they’re introducing me to new ones as well. Pretty cool stuff 🙂

      I have a list going of books I want to read by this time next year!

      Please let me know what you think of Tango when you get it!

      Reply

  6. […] Heather Has Two Mommies, Daddy’s Roommate and And Tango Makes Three […]

    Reply

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