Young adult novelist Kate Hart embarked on analysis of book cover diversity in her genre last year. She discovered that only nine percent of young adult books featured a girl of color. This year, she’s re-conducted her study, only to find that diversity has improved by just one percent.
Hart looked at over 900 books in the YA market and her infographic, the YA Cover Color Wheel, further breaks down minority spottings, determining how many covers feature black, Latina, or Asian models. She notes that block models most often appear in group shots, behind white models, or with their faces obscured.
There were no girls with physical disabilities featured at all.
I’m not sure what a study like this would’ve unearthed in the 1990s, when I was a YA reader, but I certainly found my way to the works of authors like Virginia Hamilton, Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Mildred D. Taylor, and Rosa Guy. This isn’t to say that diversity wasn’t sorely lacking back then; the most diverse assemble character series I can think of is The Babysitters Club, with its one Asian friend and, later in the series, an addition of Jessie the black girl.
What books did you read as a pre-teen/teen? Were your selections diverse? Did you feel that girls who looked like you were adequately represented in your reading?