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Vietnam publishing department orders withdrawal of children’s book with nonsensical content

The Vietnamese Department of Printing and Publishing has demanded a recall of a book for elementary school students that contains silly questions and answers, saying it was published illegally.

Vietnam publishing department orders withdrawal of children’s book with nonsensical content
Vietnam publishing department orders withdrawal of children’s book with nonsensical content

In a dispatch sent to information and communication departments in provinces and cities across the country, the department insisted that they withdraw the book “Hoi Dap Thong Minh” (Intelligent Questions and Answers) compiled by Ngoc Xuan Quynh and published by the Hanoi-based Vietnam Culture and Information Publishing House.

According to the document, the department found out that the publisher does not have a publishing registration for the book and does not meet legal deposit requirements for it either.

“Thus publishing and distributing the book are illegal,” the department emphasized in the dispatch.

Earlier, a reader named Thuy Vo wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper to express her anger after buying the book, which was recommended by her son’s school.

In her writing, Vo pointed out some Q and A pages in the book which she thought are nonsensical and should be used only for fun, not for educational purposes.

One of the questions on page 69 is “Thao will have an English test tomorrow. Thao heard people say that Bodhisattva is very sacred so Thao burns incense and asks Bodhisattva to help her pass the test. However, Thao still fails the test. Why?”

Thuy said that she was shocked to see that the answer, which is printed on the next page, is “because Bodhisattva doesn’t know English. How can she help?”

According to the reader, the book’s author and publisher have sowed a negative thought in children’s minds that what they need to do to prepare for examinations is ask for God’s help instead of studying.

“The question also brings Bodhisattva into a ridiculous situation to make fun out of it,” she stressed.

Thuy also worry that young readers will remember the book’s content fast since it is easy to remember funny things.

In addition, the parent was also dismayed at the school for its carelessly reviewing the book before recommending it to the students.

“Who are the ones to take a look at the content of books before they are given to children? Do we, parents, have to do that?” Thuy said.

“I still worry that my child will borrow the book from his friends to read,” Thuy stressed, adding she told her child not to read it and already threw the book away.

“How can we ‘guard’ children’s minds from getting ‘stained’ by the untold number of books like this?”

Many other parents also expressed discontent with the book, which they call codswallop.

“I think the book’s title should be changed into “Nonsensical Enquiries.” Honestly, I wonder if the people who are responsible for reviewing this book don’t have enough knowledge so they chose such a book to recommend to kids,” reader Huynh Nguyen complained.

“We should be careful in choosing knowledge to teach to children since they are innocent, like an empty paper sheet,” Khuu Thi My Uyen added.

The Department of Printing and Publishing has also asked the Library Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to request libraries in the country to check their book systems in order not to store and lend the book to readers.