Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gay and Lesbian Pride Month

Gay and Lesbian Pride Month is observed this month, June 1-30 because on June 28, 1969, the clientele of a gay bar at New York, NY, rioted after the club was raided by the police. President Clinton issued a presidential proclamation for this month in 1999 and 2000.

I know this is a tender topic among many, but I decided to take the leap and feature children's books that make the topic a feature. As more and more states are legalizing same-sex marriages and/or legalizing benefits to same-sex couples, we need to recognize that there are children in the United States that are living with same-sex parents.

If not for your own piece of mind, take into consideration the children growing up in these diverse families... don't they deserve the same respect and understanding as your own? I'm sure that you also agree that your children should be respectful of those who come from different backgrounds than their own, and the only way they can be respectful and appreciative of differences is to expose them to the differences. This is just one way that children can be familiarized with these unique families.

Only two of the books I had ordered for this post came in... I was disappointed with one, Uncle Bobby's Wedding and so, decided to just do a review of And Tango Makes Three. I whole-heartedly love this book and have even ordered a copy of it for myself!

Richardson, Justin and Peter Parnell.
And Tango Makes Three.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Guided Reading Level: Q

Based on a true story about two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo, And Tango Makes Three is a very sweet story that shows children that it is okay to be accepting of diversity and situations different from your own. That central theme, coupled with the all of the recent legislation regarding same-sex marriages and civil unions, which are making these new family dynamics a reality in many districts, this is definitely a book to include in a classroom library!

We follow different families at the zoo - monkey families, red panda bear families, toad families, toucan families and cotton-top tamarind families and even penguin families. However, one penguin family at the zoo is different than the other families... at an age when the boy penguins typically started to show an interest in the girl penguins, Roy and Silo stand out from the other penguins. Instead of liking girls, these two boy penguins begin showing an interest in each other. We watch as their relationship develops (in child-friendly ways, of course) and as they eventually are able to start a family of their own. Children will be shown to be accepting of these differing families by the positive way in which the public reacts as they stream into the zoo to visit baby Tango and her two daddies, Roy and Silo.

I will definitely share this book with my own children someday. I have a brother who is gay and I want my future children to be very accepting of this way of life, rather than looking at it as a negative way of life. In using the book in a classroom, I'd have to take a slightly different approach. Sadly, not all parents would be open to their children listening to a story that features this topic. The book could not solely be used as a read-aloud in a classroom unless perhaps a gay or lesbian couple had a child in the class and wanted the classmates to understand and accept their child. The book would also fit into a unit on families.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was that it showed that gay penguins were no different from the other penguins in their zoo pen. It's definitely worthy of a spot on the bookshelf, awaiting the perfect teachable moment!

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to Amazon.com.


style='clear: both;' kittenpie said...

To be honest, this is the only book I've found on the topic of gay families that I've actually liked, because most of them are written with a prupose, and are too busy being earnest to be well-written, if you see what I mean. That, and they often have ugly illustrations, too. Tango, however, is terrific.