Skip to Main Content

Topic: Banned Books Week — LGBT

Frequently Challenged Book with LGBT Content

Cover of And Tango makes Three children book

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (2005)

Since its release, "And Tango Makes Three" has consistently been a frequently challenged book.

This book is based on a true story about a penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are "a little bit different." They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the other couples start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and proceed to start caring for it. They have little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today. (PreSchool through Grade 3) --  Library Review

Individuals and groups in at least 15 US states have challenged libraries over And Tango Makes Three, seeking to have the book labeled with a content warning, moved to a different section of the library or removed from shelves altogether, according to the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom.


Examples of Challenges to And Tango Makes Three


  • Parents of students at Shiloh Elementary School in Shiloh, Illinois requested in November 2006 that the book be placed in a restricted section of the library and for the school to require parental permission prior to checking the book out. The school's superintendent resolved instead to keep the book freely available.
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ordered the book removed from school libraries.


'And Tango Makes Three' Prompts Serious Challenge in Massachusetts School  -- School Library Journal, 5/8/2007

  • "A Southwick, MA, school librarian says she fears losing her job after introducing a class of second graders to And Tango Makes Three (S & S, 2005)—the fictionalized children’s picture book based on two real-life male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo. In the book, the penguins share a nest like other penguin couples and together nurture a fertilized egg, then raise the chick...


  • Loudoun County, Virginia, the Public Schools Superintendent removed the book from general circulation at public elementary school libraries on the basis of a parent's complaint, overriding the decision of a Sterling, Virginia school principal and staff members who deemed the book suitable for young readers.
  • Calvert County, Maryland near Washington, D.C. a mother requested that the book be removed from the children's section and placed in an area specifically for books about "alternative or non-traditional families."
  • Ankeny, Iowa, parents at the local elementary school asked that this book be placed in a restricted section of the library so only parents could check it out. The school district's lawyer argued that such a decision, if challenged, would likely not hold up in court. PEN America and the American Library Association sent letters urging to board to preserve students' access to Tango. The Ankeny school board voted 6 to 1 to keep the book in general circulation.


  • The book was marked for removal in the Davis, Utah School District because parents might find it objectionable.

Other Frequently Challenged Books

Here is a selection of commonly challenged books in the United States:

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (1982)


Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden (1982)







The Family Book, by Todd Parr (2010)