racism debate

Library removes “Lilla hjärtat” books

Published torsdag 20 december 2012 kl 11:18
Stina Wirséns figur Lilla hjärtat säljs bland annat som dockor.
A doll version of Stina Wirsén's character Lilla hjärtat.

A library in the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka has decided to remove a series of children’s books, after the author and publisher stopped making the books, amid accusations of racism.

The books, by Stina Wirsén, are about a black girl called Lilla hjärtat, meaning Little heart.

Wirsén’s books were filmed, and sparked a debate in Sweden after being accused of perpetuating stereotypes. Critics have said Lilla hjärtat recreates caricatures of black people.

Earlier this year, cinema posters were taken down and some theatres cancelled showings.

Wirsén recently announced that she would stop drawing Lilla hjärtat and that her publisher would stop selling the books.

And now, the Botkyrka library has decided to remove the books about Lilla hjärtat from its shelves.

“This is not about searching our collection to find unsuitable books. Not at all,” said Margareta Berg, director of the library.

“These are modern books that are being published and that attract many readers. We want our library to be a place where all children feel welcome, not least black children as well as parents of black children.”

Swedish Radio News contacted several other libraries in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Umeå but none planned to remove the books.

“When we chose to buy the books about Lilla hjärtat and other books by Stina Wirsén it was on good grounds. They had received glowing reviews as well as support from the Swedish Arts Council,” Inga Lundén, director of the City of Stockholm Library told Swedish Radio.

After the intense debate, the City of Stockholm Library did discuss what to do about the books, said Lundén.

“We decided that we do not remove books even when an author asks us to. If we have made a decision to purchase a book then that’s it. We don’t screen for opinions.”

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