Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ellen Oh Speaks the Truth

My friend, the awesome Ellen Oh, wrote a fantastic piece on her blog about diversity and YA book covers. I've never said any of what I'm about to say aloud before but like a snow globe full of emotions, Ellen's post just shook it all up for me.

If you've been to a bookstore recently, you'll know what I mean when I say that sometimes, I find it hard to look at the YA shelves. I know, that sounds terrible but I want you to know it has nothing to do with the authors who've worked so hard on their books. For those of you who don't know, an author has no real say in what their cover will look like.

Back to why I find it hard. For the most part, all the book covers look alike-- all white models. I mean, that's okay but where is the love for others? Does everyone have long flowing hair or white skin?

What's sad is that when I was a kid, I just never expected to see anyone who looked like me or my family inside a book. There were no dark skinned grandma's and grandpas with thick Spanish accents or aunts and uncles who danced salsa waiting patiently on the page for me.  I automatically assumed the characters I was privy to were well, white. And you know what? I was right.

It's unfair, really. No matter what people think, this does something tricky to kids. It might not be obvious to the eye but it's there. Usually, lurking deep down inside. Am I good enough?

All this to say that Ellen's piece is a must read. Here's a little of what she says:

"We need to teach our youth the beauty of diversity. Beauty does not come in only one color. It does not come in only one size and one shape. And maybe when our teens grow up exposed to diversity, then they will grow into adults who embrace it."

Thank you, Ellen.

Please check out Ellen's post here:


  1. I agree with you--the bookstore shelves are full of YA gorgeous white models. My local library now has a display of new MG books and the covers are much more colorful and diverse, in every way. Thanks for posting and sharing Ellen's post.

  2. Awwww, Danette! Thanks for posting. And you see, I'm just like you. I can't even bear to look at the YA shelves anymore b/c it depresses me so much. Maybe if we keep talking about it, something will change.

  3. Thanks for reading, ladies! Alison, I wonder why the big difference in MG?

    Yes Ellen, let's keep talking about it!