Hi all! This is a column I wrote last month for my school's newspaper. I hope it makes you think!
A beautiful teenage girl is looking off into the distance. She might be floating in water or wearing a ballgown. Her eyes are bright and her cheekbones prominent. Remind you of anything? Maybe just about every Young Adult book cover ever? Wait. Let me amend that. The cover of every YA book written by a woman.
When I was in elementary school, checking out every sci-fi book in the library, I used to ask the librarian about “the creepy girls on the covers.” I couldn’t understand why there had to be basically the same image on every book. Lately I’ve been thinking again about the role gender plays in books and their covers. Books written by women, or with female main characters, tend to be deemed “girl books” or “chick lit.” Books written by men, with male main characters, are less likely to be so easily labeled, but if they’re violent or especially adventuresome, these too become “boy books.”
*Check out a few coverflipping examples, above, or google "coverflip challenge" to find out more.*
Covers are the main way that we get an impression of a book, whether we’re buying it or just checking it out of the library. And oftentimes book covers decide for the prospective reader whether they can read the book–whether their gender is “supposed to” or not. But we know male and female authors to be capable of writing books that are beloved by all genders–it’s happened before (TFIOS, anyone?)–so why aren’t book covers more inclusive to all readers? We deserve books that don’t exclude certain people from enjoying them. Gender varies from person to person, but books should be for everyone.