YA is Way White — How Colorless Are Young Adult Covers?

One of the Few Covers With A Girl of Color

There may be a lot of items that are pink, blue, and green on the covers of young adult novels, but that’s seemingly where the colors end. If you look at the people, the skin of the guys and gals represented on covers is very, very white.

Jezebel brought to our attention a study done by blogger Kate Hart, who created a “YA Cover Color Wheel” in response to the assertion that YA novels were “dark.” They meant that in themes, not in skin hues, but she took it literally. Hart found that caucasians accounted for a majority of girls on the cover. And the percentage is shocking….

She initially did her study in 2010 and found that just 9 percent of covers had models of color. But in 2011 it got a bit better, jumping slightly to 10 percent. Looking at about 900 different covers, she found that only 1.2 percent of the books had a black model on the cover and if they do appear to come in what Jezebel calls “four basic types.” They appear “In the background (behind a white girl),” “face obscured,” “beheaded (along with two white friends),” and “front and center; illustrated; albino.”

The truly sad thing? While black girls were only on 1.2 percent of covers, dead girls on the cover accounted for 6.6 percent of the jackets.  So readers would rather see dead girls than black girls on the cover? I hope not.  Since 2011 went up one percent, let’s hope that covers get more colorful in the future.

And you should check out Hart’s incredibly fascinating charts tracking the races represented on YA covers right here.

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