National Buy a Book Day is today! Why not support diversity? (Mg/YA sci fi/fantasy shopping guide included)

Today is National Buy a Book Day. To the basic challenge (not so difficult) of buying a book, I suggested adding another goal--buy a book that shows a main character who isn't white.

Way back in 2009, I made a conscious choice to add more diversity to the books on my children's bookshelves (here's that post). I wanted them to take for granted that the characters they saw on book covers, and read about inside, might well not be white. It proved hard to do. It is very, very difficult to walk into Barnes and Nobel and come out with a middle grade fantasy book that shows a kid of color on the cover. Especially if you have successfully done it once or twice already in a particular year.

But as bookseller Elizabeth Bluemie discussed in her post at CBC Diveristy*--"Who will create the new normal?"-- "If there’s one thing I have learned from my time in the handselling trenches, it’s how readily the public accept what we tell them is worth reading, what we stand behind and put our resources into. The more diversity there is on book covers, the more normalized those images become, and the more people will see beyond skin color on book covers into the stories themselves."

Those of us who aren't writer or booksellers or publishers have perhaps the most valuable resource of all--purchasing power. So today, for National Buy a Book Day, why not put that purchasing power to work for the cause of increasing diversity in children's and YA books?

For those looking for suggestions for fantasy and science fiction for kids and teenagers (since you might not be able to stroll into your local bookstore and pick one up that you haven't bought already), here are some covers showing people who aren't white (although with at least two of them, the person shown looks whiter than described inside). There are other books with non-white characters, but these are the only cover pictures I found (please tell me there are many I missed!!!)

Middle Grade sci fi/fantasy:

Monster Matsuri (Takeshita Demons 3), by Cristy Burne
The Stones of Ravenglass, by Jenny Nimmo
Dust Girl, by Sarah Zettel
The Magnificent 12: The Key, by Michael Grant
Circle of Cranes, by Annette LeBox
The Book of Wonders, by Jasmine Richards
Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, by Nathan Bransford

Possibly The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan, shows one of the non-white characters in that series, but squintching at the cover image on line proved ineffective in determining if this is the case.

And here are the YA covers that I found:

Shadows on the Moon, by Zoe Marriott
Cat Girl's Day Off, by Kimberly Pauley
Transcendence, by C.J.Omololu
Poison Tree, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Spirit's Princess, by Esther Friesner
The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson
Magic Under Stone, by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Friday Society, by Adrienne Kress
The Galahad Legacy, by Dom Testa
Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff (note: apparently this might not be a good example of diversity in YA, despite the beautiful cover--a commenter has noted that the author seems to have not had great respect for the culture in which he set the book. Any thoughts?)

For those who want more suggestions, here's my list of the c. 100 multicultural sci fi/fantasy books that I've reviewed.

*CBC Diversity hosted a great series of posts on diversity in book covers this month--check it out.


  1. Team Human, by Bressan & Larbalestier is another YA cover for you.

  2. I've been following the CBC Diversity series on covers this week, too, and I think your suggestion to celebrate National Buy a Book Day thsi way is great! Have you read Circle of Cranes??

    1. I have Circle of Cranes checked out from the library; hoping to get to it tomorrow...

  3. I second Team Human. I'd also suggest Losers in Space by John Barnes and some of Tamora Pierce's Emelan books. Esther Friesner's princess books about Nefertiti also fit the bill.

    I'd take Stormdancer off the list. It certainly has a great cover featuring a Japanese character, but it's not a great example of diversity. (Several of Jay Kristoff's interviews have shown that he didn't have much respect for the culture and various reviewers have cataloged egregious mistakes that he made.)

    1. Oh. I was going to buy Stormdancer today. I will put a note in the post, and go read about it myself, before I take down that beautiful cover....


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