Mr. Linky is collecting people's responses. Here is mine.
One of Shannon Hale's most beloved stories is Book of a Thousand Days, a fantasy set in an alternate Mongolia, featuring a strong, loving, intelligent heroine by the name of Dashti. The original cover was gorgeous, but did nothing to convey that the heroine was non-European.
Over at her blog, Shannon has just unveiled the cover of the paperback edition. Viz adding diversity to the shelves of speculative fiction, I think it speaks for itself:
This is a book that will be face-out at the bookshelves, a book that many people are eager to buy. Much as I love the hardback cover, I am glad to see Dashti's face.
Next up is a book that came out this may that I predict will be read by thousands and thousands and thousands of 3rd grade kids--This Side of Magic, by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, authors of the Bailey School Kids. I am in the middle of reading this myself, to review tonight for a (planned but not guaranteed)wrap-up post of the reading year of my just-turned-nine-today year old son. So I have it next to me as I type. There's no physical description of the kids, but the illustrator of the cover and interior has given us a girl who looks Hispanic. Good for them! I recently tried to walk into bookstore and buy books for a boy this age that had people of color on the covers, and found it virtually impossible. I find it ironic that I then bought this book last week without even registering that the girl on the cover was not white.
And my final cover is not from a new book, but it's a favorite of mine, and it's one of the most direct discussions that I know of in the speculative fiction genre--Four Ways to Forgiveness, by Ursula Le Guin (1995). It is four related novellas, set on twin planets where the light-skinned people were enslaved by the dark-skinned people, and the road to revolution and freedom, and its aftermath.
Le Guin has created many characters of color, but this book is her most overt fictional discussion of relationships variously forced, nuanced, and given depths of meaning by the skin color of the people involved. I don't much like the cover, though. Where are the relationships? What's with wind?
(Non-diversity in speculative fiction related postscript: I am especially fond of this book because I was reading it when I met my husband to be, and so was he. The next time I read it was just after my son was born--not good timing, because there is a sad, sad baby story and I was useless all day from sniffing. That being nine years ago, I am overdue for a re-read...)
And in an on-topic second postscript, I would like to recommend what Tanita at Finding Wonderland has to say about Malorie Blackman.
(I would also like, in a third postscript, off topic, to complain about blogger's strange ideas about spacing, which I fight with every time I have more than one picture).