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” 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.
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.