YA Literature: The Inside and Cover Story

Editor’s Note: YA Literature: The Inside and Cover Story was accepted for the peer reviewed paper session at YALSA’s third annual Young Adult Literature Symposium held November 2-4, 2012 in St. Louis.  The theme of the conference was “Hit me with the next big thing.”

By Regina Sierra Carter, Graduate Student, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The faces of today’s teens are undeniably transforming due to the changing faces and forms of today’s families.’ Although there are now more young adult (YA) books that feature minority/mixed race characters, help is still needed in the area of cover art to ensure that it accurately reflects the story within.’ This paper explores questionable cover art with regards to the presence of racial minority and mixed raced characters.’ Small-scale recommendations are offered for readers interested in where the future of cover art for YA literature may be headed.


Mixed messages marinate in the mind./
Clues as to what’s inside lie in a book’s binding/
Where falsities and truths are ripe for the finding./
Art lovers of literature decry/
Sales are the reason why/
Covers sometimes speak the truth/
Yet other…times…lie.                                                                            -Regina S. Carter, 2012

Cover art matters. Edward T. Sullivan, a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) committee member, summed it up nicely when he asserted that “a book’s cover is the reader’s first impression” of a book.[i] It is critical that this impression be accurate because it impacts readers’ expectations of the overall story as well as the story’s characters. Unfortunately, as young adult author Mitali Perkins posits, “…cover art can…contradict the content of a story when it comes to race or culture.”[ii] This is exactly what happened with the cover art used for Justine Larbalestier’s Liar.

Figure 1: Larbalestier's Liar  Original US cover left; updated US cover right   As is seen in Figure 1, the image on the left is the cover used on the first U.S. Figure 1: Larbalestier’s Liar
Original US cover left; updated US cover right[iii]

As is seen in Figure 1, the image on the left is the cover used on the first U.S. edition of Liar, and features Micah with fair or White skin and long brown hair. The updated cover shown on the right provides a more realistic representation of Micah, who is described in the book as mixed-race. Micah describes her mother, Maude, as being “White” and French, though Micah’s father, Isaiah, speculates she has some “black” in her due to her “full lips” and supposedly “nappy” hair.[iv] Isaiah is described as simply being “Black” although he too is mixed–he has a White mother and a Black father.[v] As such, Micah is indeed biracial as she expresses early on in the book: “…I’m undecided, stuck somewhere in between…half black, half white.”[vi] It was only when readers raised a ruckus and pointed out the inconsistencies between these in-text descriptions and the actual depiction of Micah on the earlier edition of Liar that steps were taken to correct the cover art image. As Nancy Reynolds, author of Mixed Heritage in Young Adult Literature, notes:

Race remains an anxious and vexing topic in twenty-first-century America. Our need to know and apply the “right” racial label to those whose appearance is ambiguous to us persists even in the absence of any general consensus about what race is, or precisely how and where it differs from ethnicity and culture, whose definitions are also vague.[vii]

Racial minorities have not traditionally experienced widespread coverage in YA literature. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), of the estimated 5,000 children’s books published in 2011, 300 were about Africans/African Americans, American Indians, Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos.[viii] While this number is certainly an improvement from the statistics the CCBC reported in 1985 when only 18 books were published by Black authors and illustrators, the increase does not represent the rapid diversification of the American population noted by Reynolds:

Millions of Americans consider themselves multiracial, but no official effort was made to enumerate them until 2000. Then, for the first time, the U.S. census allowed respondents to identify themselves as belonging to two or more races, and 7,270,926 (2.6 percent of the total U.S. population) did so. Of American children under age eighteen, 2.85 million were identified as belonging to two or more races (4 percent of all American children). Thirty-nine percent of mixed-race individuals enumerated were under age eighteen, as opposed to 26 percent of the total population, indicating that the mixed race population is growing much faster than the mono-racial equivalent. [ix]

As Reynolds points out, America is steadily becoming more diverse. So should YA literature. Writers of the CCBC Choices share a similar view. Choices writers express the importance of multicultural literature by emphasizing that “…all children and teens need literature to illuminate the nation and the world in which they live.”[x] To further drive home the idea the significance of having more books about racial minority groups, CCBC Choices continued to draw attention to multicultural publishing trends:

For quite a few years we have been commenting on how few books by and about people of color are published in the United States in relation to the overall number of books produced annually. As the population of the United States continues to not only increase but become more diverse, the output of publishing houses has not been a mirror of society, at least in terms of the numbers.[xi]

Another edition of Choices spoke to publishing trends of multicultural literature in relation to the continual diversification of America:

For years we have been documenting the number of books we receive annually at the CCBC by and about people of color. We don’t do this out of habit, or as a meaningless exercise, we do it to add quantitative evidence to what is empirically obvious: in numbers, books published for children and young adults don’t reflect the world youth inhabit and the lives they live. We do it in the hopes that these still-alarming statistics, which do not speak to who we are as a nation, will raise awareness of the continued need to seek out and publish books that accurately and authentically portray multicultural experiences, so that literature for children and young adults will collectively represent our diversity.[xii]

‘ Thus, the CCBC tracks the numbers of multicultural books published yearly because “represented in these numbers are two critical concepts that can have a huge impact on the relationship of children and teens to books and reading: choice and visibility. In our ever-more-diverse nation, we need books that provide all children the opportunity to see themselves and the world in which they live reflected.”[xiii] When this occurs, books can serve as both mirrors and windows for young readers.

According to Rudine Sims Bishop, author of Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Literature:

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.[xiv]

When books serve this dual purpose, readers are provided with a representation of the world and their lived experiences.

‘ Research Questions

As indicated from the above statistics, multicultural publishing trends have lagged in comparison to the ever-increasing numbers of racial minority and racially-mixed persons in the United States. This paper sets out to determine how different versions of YA cover art mimic the majority-view (or all-white world of publishing) and which ones actually mirror the story of minority/mixed-race characters present in the books. The research questions that guide this paper include:

1)’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  Has cover art for select YA titles been whitewashed?

2)’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  How do (or have) later versions of cover art for these same titles matched more closely with in-text character descriptions?

3)’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  Which version of cover art is truest to the text?

‘ Methodology

For this paper, three books were examined to determine how the character depictions on book cover art measured up against in-text descriptions. The titles examined included: Walter Dean Myers’ Crystal, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Ten Things I Hate About Me, and Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk. Each book met the following criteria: 1) it had at least two different versions of cover art available for the same title; 2) it had at least one mono or multiracial character cast in a central role; 3) it had cover art that showed a human body and/or face; and 4) it had been published or reprinted during or after the year 2000. Textual evidence was referenced to determine if the cover art remained true to in-text character description(s).



In Walter Dean Myers’ Crystal, the protagonist, Crystal, who identifies as a Black teen, is offered a chance at a life of fortune and fame as the next teen top model. Although readers understand that Crystal is Black, Myers provides few clues about her actual appearance; readers gain a sense of how Crystal looks primarily through other characters’ remarks and inquiries. For instance, Crystal’s fellow model and newfound friend, Rowena, expresses confusion about Crystal’s race. Rowena asks, “You Black or Chinese or something?”[xv] From Rowena’s inquiry, readers get the sense that Crystal may identify as Black, yet not necessarily fit her friend’s expectations for how Black females typically look.

As the story progresses, Myers continues to drop subtle hints about Crystal’s physical appearance. For example, fashion photographer Jerry candidly asks Crystal, “One of your parents White?” [xvi] To Myers’ credit, he does explicitly state that Crystal’s parents are both Black. Jerry’s remark is in stark contrast to the comment hot stuff fashion photographer Giovanni Croce makes: “Just try not to look too Black,” he instructs her.[xvii] From these two perspectives, it is difficult to determine exactly how dark or how fair-complexioned Crystal really is. Crystal’s actual appearance is a mystery in part because there are very few comments with regard to her eye color or her hair type, length, and color, which makes visualizing her as a character extremely difficult.

Since the text indicates that Crystal is indeed Black, yet does not provide any definite details about her skin tone, hair type/length/color, or eye color, affixing cover art that is true to Crystal’s character is a daunting task. One of the earliest versions of cover art for Crystal is shown in Figure 2.

‘ Figure 2: Cover art for Crystal

Figure 2: Cover art for Crystal[xviii]

Although Myers does provide few details regarding Crystal’s appearance, it is somewhat unsettling that publishers made the conscious decision to feature on the cover a very light-complexioned young lady with wavy hair and what appears to be gray-black eyes.13 It can be argued that this cover may indeed be of a young, fair-complexioned Black girl because “Black” people have a variety of skin tones: black, brown, tan, etc. Other arguments can also be made. For instance, when this cover was shown to a group of graduate students and no context was given about the storyline or the author, comments about Crystal’s race varied. A number of students thought Crystal was Latina. Others felt she looked mixed. One student commented that she was Black, possibly Creole. Another expressed that Crystal appeared “racially ambiguous” and was the “European equivalent” of what it meant to be “Black.” From those remarks, it seems that the cover does not remain true to the story’s character because readers could not express with certainty that Crystal was indeed a Black teen, which is how Myers describes her. Hence, this suggests that the cover in Figure 2 does contain elements of whitewashing.

Unlike the cover shown in Figure 2, the version shown in Figure 3 aligns more closely with who Crystal is and what she represents. It features Crystal as a confident, brown-skinned, slender young woman who is working it for the camera. This matches the story within because Crystal’s is shown as a young woman who is clearly Black and indeed a model.

Figure 3: Digital snapshot of cover art for Crystal Figure 3: Digital snapshot of cover art for Crystal

Finally, the 2002 Amistad cover shown in Figure 4 gives a close-up of Crystal who is an unmistakably Black teen with soft brown skin, full lips, and spiral curls. Similar to the first cover, Crystal’s face is in a prominent position. Yet immediately to her left are modeling photographs. The 2002 version offers the most comprehensively accurate cover because it matches with the physical in-text description of Crystal and literally shows snapshots of her as a model.

Figure 4: Cover art for Crystal‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  Figure 4: Cover art for Crystal[xix]

Ten Things I Hate About Me

Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Ten Things I Hate About Me is about a young Lebanese-Muslim teen, Jamilah Towfeek (also known as Jamie), who expresses issues with her physical appearance and ethnic background. For instance, rather than allow her friend Amy to visit her home, Jamie goes through a list of excuses just so her friend will not come. She believes that allowing Amy to visit will reveal too much of her identity, which she has tried so hard to suppress. Jamie narrates: “There is no way I can handle Amy visiting. My background oozes out of every corner of the house. From the painting with inscriptions from the Koran hanging on the walls to the Lebanese satellite channel.”[xx] Jamie is afraid that Amy may think differently of her or judge her based on her Lebanese-Muslim background. This is one of the reasons Jamie “Anglicize[s] [her] name…dye[s] [her] hair blond…And [she] sometimes wear[s] blue contact lenses.”[xxi]

Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jamie is the only side revealed to kids at her Australian high school. Jamie works hard to keep her school life separate from her home life where she lives with her older brother Bilal, her sister Shereen, and their father. Jamie’s mother passed away when she was nine, which was around the time her father began to follow certain Muslim practices. Since her mother’s death, Jamie’s father does not permit her to leave the house after dark, only allows her to go to the movies with female friends during the daytime, requires that she be escorted home immediately afterward by a family member, and does not allow her to go anywhere with males who are not related.[xxii]

Although Jamie struggles to make sense of herself, her life, and keep her Lebanese-Muslim background hidden, she does reveal parts of her true identity via an alias to someone outside of her family, via a chat room, who is known as “Rage_Against_The_Machine@intermail.com.” She tells him that she has “big brown eyes and long eye-lashes,” “a bit of acne,” “curly hair that [she] often straighten[s] into submission,” is “Lebanese-Muslim,” “attend[s] madrasa (Arabic school) once a week” and is part of “an Arabic band.”[xxiii] It is evident that the double identity that Jamilah/Jamie assumes is central to the story and each cover examined.

In the cover shown in Figure 5, Jamie’s image is captured in snapshots. She is shown wearing a pink hijab in one shot and with long, blonde hair and blue eyes in another. It is interesting that Jamie is shown wearing a hijab because the author, Abdel-Fattah, never mentions her wearing one in the story. Shereen, her older sister, is the only immediate family member who does wear the hijab to help express her social-political beliefs. The fact that Jamie is identified in the text as Lebanese-Muslim may help explain why the artist chose to portray her wearing a hijab even if it is not entirely true of Jamie or the story itself.

Figure 5: Cover art Ten Things I Hate About MeFigure 5: Cover art Ten Things I Hate About Me[xxiv]

Aside from this, it is important to note that the two snapshots of Jamie are placed on “equal” footing. The cover art artist shows Jamie wearing a hijab and without one an equal number of times. All snapshot images are also of equal size and proportion. As such, Figure 5 can be considered a fair representation with regards to Jamie’s physical appearance. However, it does not provide any indication about what goes on in the story. For instance, the cover does not show that Jamie is in high school, plays the darabuka (a type of drum) in an Arabic band, or struggles with identity issues.

The second cover shown in Figure 6, however, is somewhat misleading. Jamie is depicted as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed teen on the front cover. On the back of the cover, she is shown wearing a hijab, which, as discussed above, is something she never does in the story (photo not available). This is unsettling. Why is a picture with Jamie wearing a hijab on the back? Is it because readers are introduced to the blonde-haired version of Jamie first and this is how she appears to her peers? Or is it because the publisher believes readers may identify more with the blonde-haired teen? This is just speculation. Perhaps the two images of Jamie are separated in an attempt to show how Jamie struggles to keep her school and home life separate. Despite the publisher’s rationale for featuring the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jamie on the front cover and Jamie with a hijab on the back, this cover does not get at the essence of who Jamie is as a person: a daughter, student, a band member, and so much more.

Figure 6: Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About MeFigure 6: Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About Me

Figure 6: Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About Me[xxv]

The third cover, shown in Figure 7, is a realistic photograph of two young women back-to-back–one with dark curly hair and another with straight blonde hair. The primary concern with this cover is that readers may mistakenly think that the images are of two different teens rather than the same one. Abdel-Fattah acknowledges that Jamie shifts between two identities and two worlds, which are well represented in the first two covers. Although readers may mistakenly think that the cover features two different women, it does remain true to the story in that Jamie is not shown wearing a hijab. Moreover, she is shown sporting blonde locks as well as dark curls, which aligns with the text and makes this the best representation of the three. However, like the covers shown in Figures 5 and 6, few clues are provided about who Jamie is beyond her appearance. ‘ 

‘ Figure 7: Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About MeFigure 7: Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About Me[xxvi]

Whale Talk

In Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk, The Tao Jones (better known as T.J.), is the protagonist. Readers know from the very beginning that T.J. is “…black. And Japanese. And white.”[xxvii] He is also described as being “Mixed. Blended. Pureed. [and] Potpourri.”[xxviii] As a result of his multiracial identity, T.J. struggles daily with remarks about his race in his small, White, homogenous hometown.

Since Crutcher clearly acknowledges T.J.’s multiracial identity at the onset and throughout the book, it seems unimaginable that the publishers would use an image of what appears to be a White, male teen on the cover. However, this is precisely what happened in the 2001 edition of the book. On that cover, which is shown in Figure 8, T.J. is represented as a young, very fair-complexioned (or White) male with a brown buzz cut, running in a school sports jacket. Yet it must be noted that T.J.’s image on this cover is blurred so it can be argued that his race is difficult to discern. Although T.J.’s racial identity does not align with the text, his attire does: T.J. has his heart set on winning varsity letter jackets for the newly formed swim team at Cutter High School. Aside from the jacket, the image of T.J. running hints at his identity struggles and attempts to escape the discrimination and injustice he encounters in his small hometown.

Figure 8: Cover art for Whale Talk Figure 8: Cover art for Whale Talk[xxix]

In contrast, the 2009 cover shown in Figure 9 portrays T.J. as being a tanned-skinned (or brown) youth with short black hair. This is an improvement from the cover in Figure 8 because it gives readers a sense of his Black, Japanese, and White racial identities. Unfortunately, aside from his skin tone and hair color, there is no other clearly visible indication of his multiracial identity. Similar to Figure 7, T.J. is running, though it is not clear from what. Furthermore, this cover provides no clear indication that T.J. may be affiliated with a high school or part of a sports team because he simply wears a red T-shirt and jeans. Hence, the cover in Figure 8 aligns more closely with the text with regard to T.J.’s role within the story. Yet the cover in Figure 9 provides a clearer image of who T.J. is with regards to his racial identity.

‘ Figure 9: Cover art for Whale Talk

Figure 9: Cover art for Whale Talk[xxx]

The Future of Cover Art

As the above examples demonstrate, cover art sometimes misses the mark. To help remedy this, there may be a move towards more abstract cover art in the future, which according to Cat Yambell was a trend from 2001 through 2004.[xxxi] Returning to the use of abstract cover art may help curb controversies that arise from misrepresenting characters.

Although abstract art may be a step towards lessening the likelihood of problematic covers, this art form comes with its pros and cons. Some of the pros involve having readers rely more on their imaginations than a book’s cover to construct images of the story’s characters. Another positive of abstract cover art is that books may result in wider appeal and acceptance by both younger and older audiences. For example, adults may express dismay over being seen reading a YA novel, which is why some popular titles such as those in the Harry Potter series have had book cover makeovers geared toward older audiences.

Furthermore, abstract cover art may have more “cross-gender appeal.”[xxxii] For instance, male readers may be reluctant to pick up a title that features a female protagonist, yet may be more likely to read a book that has no clear visual indications of being geared towards a male or female audience. Although strategically designing cover art images to entice unwitting males into reading books featuring females as central characters is a noteworthy goal, gender-specific colors in abstract art may still keep them at bay. Along with abstract art, it may be wise to choose gender-neutral colors on covers, if appropriate. Finally, even if cover art images or colors are gender/age-neutral, the title may not be, which can also influence whether or not persons from certain demographic groups will or will not choose to further engage with the book.

Although adopting abstract cover art has its benefits, it also has its downsides. For example, publishers who have traditionally marketed books about racial/ethnic minority characters by purposefully situating racial/ethnic minority persons on the front cover may be lost to audiences if abstract cover art is enforced across the board. If books do not feature racial/ethnic minority characters on book covers, readers who seek these texts may be hard-pressed to find them and reduced to guessing which books are actually about racial minority/mixed/multiracial characters. This is especially true if readers do not read the inside flap or back cover for story synopses.

Donna Miller published a survey of one hundred randomly selected young adults and their perceptions of five types of cover art.[xxxiii] Survey results revealed that on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being “least important” and 5 being “most important”), 35 percent of participants rated cover art as a 3, which suggests that it was somewhat important, and 42 percent of those participants indicated that they preferred using their imagination to “visualize” characters instead of seeing pictures of a “book’s characters on a cover.”[xxxiv] Another interesting finding was that when presented with five cover art options (“cartoon-like art,” “realistic, photograph-type art,” “high-tech, computer generated art,” “abstract, but colorful art,” and “plain, line-drawing art”), participants’ top picks first included “realistic, photograph-type art” at 39.4 percent, and “abstract, but colorful art” came in second with 23.2 percent of the vote.[xxxv]“Plain, line-drawing” art received the lowest ranking with 5.1 percent of participants’ vote.[xxxvi] Although participants tended to privilege realistic cover art above all others, abstract cover art did come in second, which suggests that readers may be willing and ready to engage further with book covers that feature this type of art in the future.

In addition to abstract cover art, some have predicted a shift in cover art where faceless models are prioritized. Perkins argues that specific values and messages can be gleaned from marketing book covers with faceless models, which include a power shift from publishing houses to readers/writers with regards to character embodiment.[xxxvii] This encourages readers to rely on their imaginations to interpret and construct their own mental images of a book character’s physical appearance based upon textual evidence rather than accepting the art that publishing houses push for a particular book.

‘ Recommendations

As of now, there is little that lovers of YA literature can do about cover art that grossly misses the mark, which is unfortunate. However, in the future, readers may have more of a say in how cover art is constructed. When that time comes, there may be a move toward a more creative and reader-oriented approach to producing cover art. For example, in the future, cover art may be personally selected via pre-order services or created using kiosks.

Pre-Order Services

At the basic level, cover art can be customized via pre-order services. For example, to reduce the hassle and headache of creating custom covers, publishing houses and/or major booksellers can devise a system where readers have the option to pre-order books online and select from a library of pre-existing covers. If this approach is used, readers may have a chance to select covers from a database of U.S. and international book cover art prior to placing their book orders online.


Similar to greeting card and photo book kiosks, cover creation kiosks can be situated in major book and retail stores. Cover creation kiosks are designed for those readers who have already purchased a copy of their desired book and are familiar with the storyline. Ideally, after readers have read a book and have formalized their own interpretations of the story, they will be able to make optimal use of kiosks, which will have photo editing software and an image library that readers may utilize to create customized book covers. Prior to this approach being implemented, permissions must be acquired for titles and images. This approach will enable readers to personalize book covers to fit their interpretation(s) of the text.

If they so desire, readers also will have the option to revisit cover creation kiosks to create additional book covers and then insert them into adjustable cover-sleeves. This approach affords consumers increased flexibility and control of how and when they choose to adorn their personal book copies.


This paper fits with YALSA’s 2012 Young Adult Literature Symposium theme “The Future of Young Adult Literature: Hit Me with the Next Big Thing” because it acknowledges a need for cover art that reflects the “changing faces of today’s teen” and offers suggestions for how this may be realized on a small scale.

Altering the notion and presentation of cover art is undoubtedly one of the next big things. Yet questions remain as to how to best implement these ideas. Just as we choose which books we desire to order online via vendors, customize photos via kiosks, use software to alter images, and create mini prototypes of ourselves, why not make the same customization tools available to readers of print books as well as ebooks when it comes to cover art? The ideas I propose are designed to give readers more of a say in how cover art is rendered. They may even open up new markets. However, there are limitations associated with these ideas. For example, how do these ideas fit within the legal landscape? How will copyright and image royalties factor in? Will readers be prompted to purchase licenses prior to using images? Will book costs increase as a result of a move toward increased cover art customization?

When teens read YA literature, they read two stories: the outside cover as well as the text within. Instead of these being disjointed, these stories should be one and the same. Appropriate cover art is necessary because it helps to match the inside story to the story the cover portrays.


[i] Edward T. Sullivan, “Judging Books by Their Covers: A Cover Art Experiment,” Voice of Youth Advocates 21 (August 1998): 180-182.

[ii] Mitali Perkins, “Straight Talk on Race,” School Library Journal 55 (April 2009): 28-32.

[iii] Cover art for Liar from http://www.racebending.com/v3/interviews/justine-larbalestier-ya-author/

[iv] Justine Larbalestier, Liar (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 20.

[v] Ibid., 20.

[vi] Justine Larbalestier, Liar (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 10.

[vii] Nancy Reynolds, Mixed Heritage in Young Adult Literature (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2009), xii.

[viii] Cooperative Children’s Book Center, “Children’s Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States,” http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/pcstats.asp (accessed October 14, 2012.)

[ix] Ibid., xiii.

[x] Cooperative Center for Children’s Books, “Publishing in 2005,” http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/choiceintro06.asp (accessed March 5, 2013).

[xi] Cooperative Center for Children’s Books, “Publishing in 2006,” http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/choiceintro07.asp (accessed March 5, 2013).

[xii] Cooperative Center for Children’s Books, “Thoughts on Publishing in 2008” http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/choiceintro09.asp (accessed March 7, 2013).

[xiii] Cooperative Center for Children’s Books, “Publishing in 2007,” http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/choiceintro08.asp (accessed March 10, 2013).

[xiv] Rudine Sims Bishop, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” Reading is Fundamental (Summer 1990), http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/multicultural/mirrors-windows-and-sliding-glass-doors.htm (accessed October 21, 2012).

[xv] Walter Dean Myers, Crystal (New York: Amistad, 2002), 12.

[xvi] Ibid., 10.

[xvii] Ibid., 35.

[xix] Cover art for Crystal from http://www.bookdepository.com/Crystal-Pb-Walter-Dean-Myers/9780064473125

[xx] Randa Abdel-Fattah, Ten Things I Hate About Me (New York: Orchard Books, 2010), 10-11.

[xxi] Ibid., 7.

[xxii] Ibid., 21.

[xxiii] Ibid., 39.

[xxiv] Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About Me from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listing/2685472702119?r=1&cm_mmca2=pla&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-Book-_-Q000000633-_-2685472702119

[xxvi] Cover art for Ten Things I Hate About Me from http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue71/TenThings.htm

[xxvii] Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 1.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Cover art for Whale Talk from http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/books/Whale-Talk-Chris-Crutcher/

[xxx] Cover art for Whale Talk from http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/08/top-10s-books-i-would-have-like-to-have.html

[xxxi] Cat Yambell, “Judging a Book by Its Cover: Publishing Trends in Young Adult Literature,” Lion & The Unicorn 29 (September 2005): 348-372.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Donna Miller, “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover–But Do Teens?,” Voice of Youth Advocates 34 (August 2011): 242-243.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Ibid., 242.

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Mitali Perkins, “Teens Do Judge a Book by the Cover,” http://www.hungermtn.org/teens-do-judge-a-book-by-the-cover/ (accessed October 14, 2012).


I would like to thank Dr. James Anderson, Dr. Violet Harris, Dr. Kate McDowell, Michelle Castro, Rejane Dias, Shana Riddick, Gabriel Rodriguez, Pasha Trotter, and a host of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership graduate students for their time, unwavering guidance, and support throughout the writing process.

About ‘ the Author

Regina Sierra Carter received her BA in English from the University of South Carolina-Columbia and Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and M.S. at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current research interests involve multicultural youth literature, technology, and library services in rural areas.


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