Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What we say without words

It is said that a picture's worth a thousand words.

Every few years, publishers will print new geography books, replacing outdated population statistics, government leaders, general information, photos, etc. Cover art is typically updated as well.  In with the new, out with the old, standard procedure, nothing unusual.

Today, however, I spotted the new cover photo for the nonfiction, informational children's book, Iran, and I was taken aback.

If a picture's worth a thousand words, what do these three pictures say? 

2003 edition

2008 edition

2012 edition
Remember, these are books for children.  Can we create bias with a photo?
I think so. Should we? I think not.


  1. As much as I support the expansion of civil rights for women, I find this shift in the covers disturbing. The goal of nonfiction books for children --if not for adults--is to widen outlooks and to inform as much as possible without bias (or at least to reveal the complexities in "the truth." These recent covers inflame biases and close minds, rather than open them.

  2. Thank you for highlighting the bias in these covers. More than anything, nonfiction books about countries for younger readers should give background of the nation and people itself, which is older, deeper and richer than current politics. It is far more useful for children to understand the culture and history of Iran so they can appreciate the current state of the country as they move through social studies in high school. These covers will, in some ways, limit this broader understanding.


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