Showing Our True Colors: YA Covers That Got it Right in 2012

Publishing companies aren’t putting out enough YA titles that feature protagonists of color. And when they do, some book covers try to hide or obscure the characters’ race by showing them in silhouette or in shadow, or at times whitewashing them completely. Even the most diverse library collections sometimes look homogenous when you just see the covers. Don’t believe me? Check out my post from last week: “It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers.”

The problem is insidious, but it’s not completely pervasive, as many of you pointed out in the post comments last week. There are a lot of publishers, authors, and books that have no problem putting people of color on the covers of their books. So I just wanted to take a moment to recognize and celebrate those folks who understand how important it is for everyone to be able to see their own identity validated on the cover of a book. Here are some books covers that got race right in 2012.

Ichiro by Ryan InzanaA.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division by Douglas RushoffNever Fall Down by Patricia McCormickBoy21 by Matthew Quick


Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na LiuLosers in Space by John BarnesMy Name is Parvana by Deborah EllisThe Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson


The Good Braider by Terry FarishJump Into the Sky by Shelley PearsallDear Blue Sky by Mary SullivanBurn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian


Transcendence by C. J. OmololuShadows on the Moon by Zoe MarriottThe Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girls' Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim CrothersA Certain October by Angela Johnson


Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon The Mighty Miss Malone by Paul Christopher Curtis Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker


Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberley PauleyVessel by Sarah Beth DurstTorn by Stephanie GuerraPinned by Sharon Flake


The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady CrossTrue Legend by Mike LupicaStormdancer by Jay KristoffTeam Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan


Spirit's Princess by Esther M. FriesnerBad Boy by Dream JordanInto the Wise Dark by Neesha MemingerThe Choke Artist by David Yoo

Have any other covers you think deserve a shout out? Share them in the comments.

— Annie Schutte, currently reading After the Snow by S. D. Crockett

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