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Story about Penguins Is Most Banned Book of Past Five Years

College Holds Annual Banned Books Read-In

September 28, 2011

Joyce Dozier reads from the controversial children's book,

Joyce Dozier reads from the controversial children's book, "And Tango Makes Three."

How can a true story about two penguins from New York City’s Central Park Zoo that fall in love, adopt a stray penguin egg and live happily ever after be the most controversial book of the past five years?

Simple. The 2005 children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, is a political football in the nation’s culture wars. It turns out that Roy and Silo are both male penguins.

Written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, And Tango Makes Three has been the most banned book of the past five years, according to the American Library Association.

While children in many American schools and communities are forbidden access to the illustrated storybook, Wilmington College’s Joyce Dozier, associate professor of criminal justice, wanted to make sure those attending the College’s annual Banned Books Read-in Sept. 28 were given that opportunity.

So, over the course of seven minutes, she read the story, And Tango Makes Three, and shared the illustrations.

For three hours on Sept. 28, Wilmington College students, faculty, staff and friends read in Watson Library from books that have been censored sometime or somewhere. The annual Banned Books Read-in was WC’s part of the National Library Association's “Banned Books Week.”

Bart Flaherty read from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a recognized literary classic written in the mid-19th century that has been banned throughout the United States for a variety of reasons.

It was initially banned in New England because of Twain’s use of southern dialect. Also, it has been banned because of Huck’s “irreverence with regard to adults” and, most frequently, it’s been due to the pervasive use of the N-word. Flaherty lamented that a new edition is coming that uses the word “slave” instead of the N-word.

“I’m sure that Mark Twain would have been upset about this,” he said.

Event organizer Gloria Flaherty, emeritus professor of education, read from Suzanne Collins’ 2008 young adult, science fiction novel, The Hunger Games, while others read from The Diary of Anne Frank, a children’s discovery book called Where Did I Come From?, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Chris Crutcher’s Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

Flaherty said many school boards have banned books but the “most pervasive” form of censorship in schools is self-censorship in which teachers simply do not use literature that someone might be deemed as controversial.