Singapore

NLB pulls two children’s books that ‘don’t promote family values’

National Library Board takes a strong pro-family stance in selecting books for young ones, says its chief librarian
Published: 4:03 AM, July 9, 2014
Updated: 6:57 PM, July 11, 2014
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SINGAPORE — The National Library Board (NLB) yanked two children’s book titles off its shelves yesterday, after complaints from a member of the public that the books did not promote family values.

The first book, And Tango Makes Three, features two male penguins which exhibit behaviours like a couple and successfully hatch and raise a young penguin, based on a true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book has stirred similar controversy in the United States, with repeated calls for it to be banned from libraries.

The second, The White Swan Express, revolves around adoption of children and features a single mother and a lesbian couple among its characters.

In a post in the Facebook group We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore, member Teo Kai Loon wrote that the NLB had replied to the complaints.

The letter, signed by Ms Tay Ai Cheng, the NLB’s assistant chief executive and chief librarian, said the library had withdrawn the two books. She also said the NLB takes a strong pro-family stance in selecting books for children.

She added that with a collection of more than five million books, it was an arduous task to ensure complete adherence. “However, when library visitors like yourself highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation,” she said.

Mr Teo said the response was swift, coming within two days. Such books, he said, should not be allowed to go under the radar. He also urged members to continue to scrutinise the library’s catalogues. “Remember, the onus is on us,” he added.

The Facebook post has since been removed.

The NLB’s move sparked concern among civil society activists here.

Ms Jolene Tan, programmes and communications senior manager at the Association of Women for Action and Research, said it was a shame that the NLB had taken such action.

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