Children’s book with racist content moved to adult’s collection in public libraries

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
(PHOTOS: Umm Yusof/Facebook)
(PHOTOS: Umm Yusof/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — A Chinese-language children’s book criticised for containing racist content has been moved to a section in the adult’s collection in public libraries.

The National Library Board (NLB) on Monday (19 October) said it has completed its review of “Who Wins?” by Wu Xing Hua, in consultation with an independent citizen-based committee.

After considering public feedback and the committee’s views, the board has decided to move the book to the family and parenting section located in the adults’ collection in the libraries, said the NLB.

“Parents and guardians can make use of this book to discuss how children can deal with bullying in schools and correct any potential misunderstandings that children may have,” it added.

The Library Consultative Panel, described as an “ an independent citizen-based committee comprising members from a cross-section of society”, provides recommendations to the board on its review of books that members of the public have raised concerns about, said the NLB.

“As the NLB acquires about one million books annually, we rely on patrons’ feedback and the review by the panel,” it added.

In July, all copies of the picture book were removed from public libraries, following a complaint by Estella Young on Facebook – under the pseudonym Umm Yusof – about its “racist content”.

It features a “dark-skinned” boy with “oily curly hair” called “Mao Mao” or Chinese for hairy. Young described the book as “astoundingly racist” and that the particular character was “described in explicitly racialised terms, and in contrast to all the other characters who are depicted as fair-skinned”.

The book, recommended for children aged seven to nine, was published in 2018 in Singapore by Marshall Cavendish Education. It is one of five books in the Amazing Adventures Of Pi Pi series.

Following the complaint, the publisher had in the same month issued an apology stating that it had “no intention to produce content promoting discrimination in any way”.

It added that it had ceased the sale and distribution of the series as well as recalled the books from retail stores.

"The books we publish cater to an all-inclusive society where diversity is respected and celebrated, and our team is dedicated and committed to that cause," said the publisher.

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