YA Covers that FLY off Shelves

Librarians and booksellers weighed in on my call for great covers on books featuring protagonists of color. According to the experts, pictured below are several jackets popular with teens in many different kinds of communities (scroll down to see the cover art.)

Please note I'm not making any statement on the literary quality of these books (in fact, they differ quite a bit in writing style and substance), just their popularity based on the covers. Does anything strike you about the covers? Why would these kinds of designs draw teens?

If you sell or circulate books to young adults, feel free to add titles in the comments. Tune in on Monday, when I review the poll and share some lessons learned.

THE SKIN I'M IN by Sharon Flake
CODETALKER by Joseph Bruchac
BLUFORD HIGH series by Anne Schraff and Paul Langan
DRAMA HIGH series by L. Divine
KIMANU TRU series by various authors
LIAR by Justine Larbalestier
EXTRAS by Scott Westerfeld
BALL DON'T LIE by Matt de la Peña
AFTER TUPAC AND D. FOSTER by Jacqueline Woodson
SUCKERPUNCH by David Hernandez
CONFETTI GIRL by Diana López
MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS by Varian Johnson
GRAFFITI GIRL by Kelly Parra
HATERS by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
THE FIRST PART LAST by Angela Johnson
SHE'S SO MONEY by Cherry Cheva
ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA by Diana Rodriguez Wallach
TYRELL by Coe Booth
ALL ABOUT US series by Shelly Adina


holly cupala said…
Very interesting - and so cool to see such a diverse group of books. Thanks, Mitali!
Ed Spicer said…

spoke with my mostly girl, all white teen book group about whether or not books featuring poc on the cover are for us. I also shared the controversy about Liar etc and asked for opinions on whether they would buy books that featured folks who do not have our skin tones and facial features. I wouldn't say I changed anything but I do think we need to keep planting these seeds until we have more balance.

Wendy said…
Fascinating, Mitali, thanks! Those covers are working on ME, as we speak.
june said…
I'm so happy to see someone give Perfect Chemistry some love-an awesome book with an awesome cover!
Laura W said…
My students also love Who Am I Without Him? by Flake and November Blues by Draper. The cover of The Battle of Jericho is unfortunate, but it is a well-circulated book.
MissAttitude said…
Yay, thanks for doing this Mitali! I hope other librarians and booksellers take note. I wish CodeTalker did have a POC on it, such a great book. I love the cover of Romiette and Julio and the Kimani Tru series covers always make me happy. The books are decent but the covers represent us so well :)
I hadn't heard of Suckerpunch, need to check that one out.
beth said…
Thanks for doing this.

I have to say, I'm not sure that cover of the Bruchac book fits -- is there another cover with a person on it? Although it looks like a great book.
Mitali Perkins said…
I wanted to include the Bruchac cover because I have an unproven hypothesis that boys are more drawn to covers without faces.

I did an informal poll with some teen guys that seemed to support this, but I'd love for someone to study this in depth, with true research. Of course, we'll probably move to a discussion about packaging of ebooks before the study was completed ...
The covers feel very in-your-face, especially the close up shots. I'm not a big fan of the Extras cover--it feels too fashion shoot to me.

I really like Confetti Girl though.

I haven't read most of these - are the books in which race is incidental or important to the plot? I've seen it argued that teens avoid YA with POC protagonists because the majority are about race. I'm not sure if I believe it, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Neil Patrick said…
great post

Nice source of information you have provided thanks...