"And Tango Makes Three" waddles its way back to the number one slot as America’s most frequently challenged book

For Immediate Release
Mon, 04/11/2011


Barbara Jones

CHICAGO – Justin Richardson’s and Peter Parnell’s "And Tango Makes Three" tops the list of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010.  The list was released today as part of the ALA’s State of America’s Libraries Report.

"And Tango Makes Three" is an award-winning children’s book about the true story of two male Emperor Penguins hatching and parenting a baby chick at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book has appeared on the ALA’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books for the past five years and returns to the number one slot after a brief stay at the number two position in 2009. There have been dozens of attempts to remove And Tango Makes Threefrom school and public library shelves. Those seeking to remove the book have described it as "unsuited for age group," and cited "religious viewpoint" and "homosexuality" as reasons for challenging the book.

Off the list this year are such classics as Alice Walker’s "Color Purple"; "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee; "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger; and Robert Cormier’s "The Chocolate War." Replacing them are books reflecting a range of themes and ideas that include "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley;  "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie; "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins; and Stephenie Meyer’s "Twilight."

“While we firmly support the right of every reader to choose or reject a book for themselves or their families, those objecting to a particular book should not be given the power to restrict other readers’ right to access and read that book,” said Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.  “As members of a pluralistic and complex society, we must have free access to a diverse range of viewpoints on the human condition in order to foster critical thinking and understanding.  We must protect one of the most precious of our fundamental rights – the freedom to read.”  

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) collects reports on book challenges from librarians, teachers, concerned individuals, and press reports from across the United States.  A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2010, OIF received 348 reports on efforts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.    

Though OIF receives reports of challenges from a variety of sources, a majority of challenges go unreported. 

The ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010 include the following titles; each title is followed by the reasons given for challenging the book:

1. "And Tango Makes Three" by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: Offensive language, Racism, Sex Education, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence

3. "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

Reasons: Insensitivity, Offensive Language, Racism, Sexually Explicit

4. "Crank" by Ellen Hopkins

Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit

5. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence

6. "Lush" by Natasha Friend

Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group

7. "What My Mother Doesn’t Know" by Sonya Sones

Reasons: Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group

8. "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America" by Barbara Ehrenreich

Reasons: Drugs, Inaccurate, Offensive Language, Political Viewpoint, Religious Viewpoint

9. "Revolutionary Voices" edited by Amy Sonnie

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit

10. "Twilight" by  Stephenie Meyer

Reasons: Religious Viewpoint, Violence

For more information on book challenges and censorship, please visit the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week Web site at www.ala.org/bbooks.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. As part of its mission, OIF offers comprehensive support for librarians, teachers, and members of the public who are working behind the scenes and on the front lines to protect the public’s right to read.

The State of America’s Libraries Report documents trends in library usage and details the impact of library budget cuts, technology use and the various other challenges facing U.S. libraries.  The full report is available at http://tinyurl.com/alasalr2011.