Thursday, March 15, 2007

Targeted for Censorship: This Year's 'Champs'

A storybook based on an incident in the Central Park Zoo has attracted the most challenges for 2006, according to the American Library Association's Office on Intellectual Freedom.

And Tango Makes Three
has drawn fire in children's libraries and elementary schools for what critics call its "favorable portrayal of homosexuality." It's about a pair of male penguins who parent an egg from a mixed sex pair of penguins who have one egg too many.

The Top Ten challenged books include, along with their recorded complaints:
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

  • Gossip Girls series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

  • Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

  • Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;

  • Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;

  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.
The ALA logged 546 challenges last year. The organization defines a challenges as a formal writen complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Public libraries, schools, and school libraries report the majority of challenges. Not all challenges are reported, however.

Children's librarian Beth Reynolds reports that NPL owns a copy of Tango. "It goes out all the time, because it's a nice story," she says.