CHINA / SOCIETY
Publisher explains cover illustration changes of elementary school textbook, denying relation to third-child policy
Published: Sep 14, 2021 08:08 PM
The pictures on the cover of the fifth-grade textbook depicts two young children and a relatively older boy and girl, while the other one depicts three young children and a relatively older girl. Photo: publisher

The pictures on the cover of the fifth-grade textbook depicts two young children and a relatively older boy and girl, while the other one depicts three young children and a relatively older girl. Photo: publisher



After the new semester kicked off in September, a group of elementary school textbook cover illustrations unexpectedly aroused the attention of netizens and led to a hot debate online, with some netizens pointing out that it depicts a family with a third child. On Monday, the textbook publisher officially responded, denying the claim and putting the controversy to rest.

The two cover illustrations that sparked the discussion are from the fifth-grade Chinese textbook and sixth-grade language textbook published by the People's Education Press. The pictures on the cover of the fifth-grade textbook depicts two young children and a relatively older boy and girl, while the other one depicts three young children and a relatively older girl.

Many netizens speculated that the two pictures vividly show a family that has a third child.

"In a year's time, the textbook cover has changed from two to three children. The mom is not delicately dressed up anymore. The dad is absent from home, probably working overtime to support the family," wrote one netizen jokingly. This interpretation of the covers in relation to the "third-child policy" resonated with a large number of netizens. 

As this interpretation became more popular, on Monday the People's Daily Press explained on its official WeChat account the identity of the characters in the two pictures. They said that the two older male and female characters were not the parents of the other children, but their older siblings, and that the cover picture had nothing to do with the third-child policy.

"We really feel aggrieved for the brother and sister, are they so obviously old?" The publisher wrote in the article in a light tone.

The designer of the textbook cover further explained that the illustration on the cover of the first book shows the children playing Go together, the cover of the second book shows the children doing Chinese painting sketching. "This is in line with the age and cognitive level of children, while also taking into account the time of year when the textbooks are used."

After the publisher's response, many netizens wrote that some people unnecessarily used the third-child policy to misinterpret the illustrations. But some netizens argued that those who associated the illustrations with the recent policy shouldn't be blamed as the topic is of interest to many.

On May 31, China eased its family planning policy to allow couples to have a third child. The change came as the number of newborns declined for a fourth year straight. Following the announcement, several provinces and cities introduced supportive policies to encourage couples to have three children.

Global Times


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