Librarians Respond to the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010

The American Library Association’s list of 2010’s most frequently challenged books came out this week, and so we decided to get Sarah Murphy and Joelen Pastva to weigh in on the controversy. Murphy is a school librarian and is a co-founder (with Maria Falgoust) of the Desk Set, “a social and philanthropic group for librarians and bibliophiles” here in New York, and Pastva has worked in both public and research libraries. Also, it’s the end of National Library Week, so what better way to celebrate contested books than to check out one about gay penguins at your local library? We’ve included their responses below, as well as the reasons the books were contested by parents, educators, and other “concerned individuals.”

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

Sarah says: “Tons of children’s books attempt to teach tolerance and acceptance, and Tango is far from the only title about different kinds of families. The book’s popularity with children and its succinct, effective message’s popularity with teachers and librarians have combined to make it an obvious target for groups wishing to deny civil rights to same sex couples. They can call it religious viewpoint, but this librarian calls it bigotry.”

Joelen says: “How could we forget Leslea Newman’s classic book Heather Has Two Mommies? Even if we weren’t children or parents when the book was first published in 1989, it became the banned children’s book of the 1990s. Now that the book has become innocuous enough to be parodied in a major children’s title ([Dav] Pilkey’s Captain Underpants), Parnell and Richardson’s story of male penguins raising an egg together is apparently the latest threat to American families. Except their story is actually based on real events! Go figure.”