Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reading is Fundamental (ist)

After my last little rant, I suppose this is a good place to introduce you to little Tango. And Tango Makes Three is a book that has been recommended to us through some of the adoption message boards we've been participating in online. Gregg and I both believe that reading to children from an early age helps to develop their minds and is also a great bonding tool. Neither one of us can wait to hold little Finster in our arms and read to it at night. (If you're bothered by the "it" you need to go a couple of posts back in time for the explanation!)

Tango is a great book that fits our needs in a number of ways. First, we are seeking out books about adoption that are geared towards young children. We want to make sure adoption is always presented in a positive manner and make it as natural as possible a way for families to be created. We don't want little Finster to feel unique or in any way different from other children, and we want Finster to be able to talk about and explain adoption to classmates and friends from the beginning. The worst thing would be to come home from school upset and then we have to start talking about adoption for the first time. Tango tells the story of an infertile penguin couple that "adopts" and hatches an egg from another penguin couple.

Secondly, our situation is going to be different from Finster's classmates, especially here in Mesa, because it will have two daddies. Tango works here because the penguin couple in question, Silo and Roy, happen to be two male penguins. Being basically lazy, I'll paste in the synopsis of the book below:

PreSchool-Grade 3-This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. 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 others 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.

So I read the review, thought "Hey that's perfect!" and had ship it right over. It does a great job of showing how the penguin chick is a happy well adjusted bird that happens to have two fathers. Plus, these birds are still living in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. I have no idea how long penguins live, but who knows maybe we can take Finster over there to see them one day. And if they do kick the bucket with any luck they'll stuff 'em and send them over to the Museum of Natural History, New York's largest collection of dead animals, unless you include the subway (kidding, relax...).

Sounds charming and whimsical doesn't it...but wait there's more. My first story book for my future baby was actually the devil in disguise! Tango may help my child to be well adjusted and confident in it's family life, but in reality it is at the center of a firestorm of controversy. Here are a few "other" reviews of Tango, which has managed to become the most challenged library book in recent history...

"My wife unwittingly sat down to read it with the kids, halting the story midway. We later found out that our 6 year-old had already read it. We spent an hour undoing the damage and it ruined not just storytime but the whole evening. My 6 year-old readily understood that the book was wrong. In fact, he knew when he read the book that it was talking nonsense and that it wasn’t right. My daughter was unnerved to discover that same-sex couples, apparently in all species, can adopt children." (Gasp!)

Or this little gem:

"...this book has been insidiously and deceitfully placed in libraries across America to re-educate young children to accept all families as valid, whether they have two mommies, two daddies, three daddies or three mommies and two daddies. It is deceptively normal and intentionally aimed at children whose primary concern should be Legos and dolls. They push the debate on homosexuality into the kindergarten when the only debate children that age should be forced to decide is crust or no crust on their sandwiches. I am appalled that Simon and Schuster thinks my children are ready for sex. And I am angry that they chose such a backhanded method to pump someone’s agenda. They will be hearing from my articulate 9 year-old in the coming days, and my library will be hearing from me." (From here the article devolves into scripture and why Jesus hates penguins.)

Hmm, better re-read it. Nowhere did I see anything mentioned on polygamy in there. (I'm still trying to work out the logistics on that last one about three moms and two dads...) OK so here's the thing: If you don't like the message, then how about you don't read the book! (And how did they not know what it was about? Penguins are somewhere between flamingos and Ricky Martin as Earth's Gayest Animal.) We're hoping to raise our child to be "deceptively normal" and this book does a great job of just that. Besides when the mob of angry nine year olds storms the local library they'll be looking for penguins, not Finster. The icing on the cake however is that And Tango Makes Three is now the most challenged book on library shelves for two years in a row. Knowing me, I'll read it to the baby daily with a large smile on my face. Right before I move on to the second book I bought, The Family Book, which explains how all kinds of people make a family, including ones with two moms or two dads.

So if you'd like to join me in the Downfall of Western Society as we know it, you can always buy the book here.

1 comment:

Rik Miller said...

LOL... Its a good book, as to why its so challenged, well, thats what happens when the "good dooers" think they are doing something right.

The problem with the book that many people don't understand is two fold. The first one is that as you say, it paints the picture as normal of a same sex couple adopting a child. In this case, the story is of two male penguins adopting a baby chick to raise as their own. (Which this is based on a true life experience.). The second problem, but is on more of a sub conscience level is the idea of homosexuality in nature. This creates discord in the minds of those who believe that homosexuality is a choice. If homosexuality appears in nature, then how can it be a choice. So ofcourse, they are going to challenge any type of book that goes against their beliefs.

Lets face it though, a book is not going to mess up a child. If anything will mess up a child, it will be the parents. =)