Why We Are Reading “And Tango Makes Three”

I am a book lover.  My husband is also an adamant reader.  For our birthdays this year, we both got Kindles, and we love them.  We have tons of books.  I only recently managed to get rid of my last (out of date) college text book.  The kids also have a lot of books.  In addition to the books we have at home, we frequent our local library.

Although, I have to admit to say that “we” frequent the library isn’t 100% accurate.  Jason frequents the library with the boys, and I usually go by myself.  A few months ago, Jason decided that as an opportunity to get some one on one time with Kael, he would take Kael to the library on Sunday afternoons.  Somehow that has changed from a one on one time for the two of them to a time for Jason and the two older boys to do something together.  They often spend well over an hour there picking out books, and they come home with the book bag absolutely stuffed.  It’s not unusual for our family to have over 20 books checked out from the children’s area.

One of the reasons that Jason takes the boys and I don’t is that he picks better books than I do.  I was a teacher before Kael was born, and I’m stuck in a rut of picking out my old favorites.  Click Clack Moo, Stellaluna, Henry and Mudge.  They are great books, but I have a hard time getting away from books that I know I’ve read and liked.  Jason does a great job of exploring several different areas of the children’s library and picking out a mix of fiction and nonfiction on a variety of topics.  He also talks with the boys about books they’ve liked in the past and might want again or topics they would like to read more about.  Occasionally I make a suggestion, but for the most party I just enjoy what they bring home.

The last time they went to the library, I did make a suggestion.  I suggested that if it was available Jason check out And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.  If you haven’t heard of it, this is a children’s picture book about two male penguins who hatch an egg from another pair of penguins and raise the resulting baby.  It talks about how they wanted to be a family and did things that other penguin families did.  It also tells how zookeepers gave the two male penguins an egg to care for.  The result was a baby penguin they name Tango.

Why?  Living in ND, we don’t get a wide variety of cultural experiences.  It occurred to me one day that perhaps there is something similar in the lack of exposure to other races and lack of exposure to other family situations.  This was probably brought on by the blog posts I read on Ask Moxie this summer about the book NurtureShock.  Chapter 3 of NurtureShock (which I have not read but have on my to be read list) is called Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race.  The gist of the chapter (which I am summarizing based on this blog post) is that if we don’t teach our children about the differences among people they make their own assumptions.  Also, putting them in a diverse environment (which I feel unable to do) is not enough.  This chapter is primarily about race and differences that children are able to see clearly and easily when looking at others, but what if this extends to other areas?  It is not okay with me for my children to form their opinions of homosexuality and what it means based only on what they see in popular media or hear from those around them.

For many people this might be a no-brainer.  Of course you would talk to your children about this.  For some people this might be somewhat controversial.  Not just talking about homosexuality but talking about it in a factual way, attempting to normalize it for our children, and addressing it in a way that allows our children to explore their own thoughts on it and continue the conversation over time.

Both my husband and I are Christians.  We are raising our children in the Christian church.  It’s obviously not a big surprise to anyone that there are differing opinions in the church on homosexuality.  We want our children to know a few things very clearly about homosexuality.  If it turns out that one (or more) of our children are gay, we will love them.  Not we will love them anyway.  We will love them, period.  We also want them to know that people are people.  We are called as Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves, and some of our neighbors may be gay.  We love them as ourselves.

I started writing this post several weeks ago.  It got put on the back burner as life got busier with the new baby, but even though this next paragraph isn’t as current as it was then, I still think it is appropriate and applicable.

When I started writing this post, there was a lot being said in the media about the recent suicides of children (some gay and some perceived as being gay) and college students.  This is actually what was on my mind when I wrote my last post about sharing opinions that might be more controversial.  The primary reason I wanted to write this post was because I don’t ever want to be faced with a situation like the families of those kids and feel like I stayed silent when I had a duty to be unsilent.


  1. Can I shaaaare please? On my FB? I love this article and I have had And Tango Makes Three in my Amazon cart waiting for me to gather enough stuff to purchase.

  2. Ooh! I’ve heard it’s wonderful, and of course the fact that it’s been banned so frequently makes me want to read it all the more.

    I also loved this: “If it turns out that one (or more) of our children are gay, we will love them. Not we will love them anyway. We will love them, period.” Well said!

    Click, Clack, Moo is so good, but I haven’t tried the others you’ve mentioned. Some of our favorites are, well, any Sandra Boynton book. Also, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson.

    Happy reading!

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