37 Gorgeous Illustrated Book Covers Featuring People of Color

We are the type of people to stop in our tracks if a pretty book catches our eye. Seriously, we will literally and figuratively drop everything we’re doing and go pick up a book with a gorgeous cover because is it really such a bad thing to judge a book by its cover, sometimes?! And being so cover-obsessive, we can’t help but notice and offer the hugest celebratory “YES, YES, FINALLY, YES!” to the newest, long-time-coming cover trend: illustrated book covers!

And not just the illustrations, which are stunning in themselves, but the fact that so many of these illustrated book covers feature knock-us-out-with-happiness portraits of people of color! (Ahem, when we saw With the Fire on High we were screaming along with all of Twitter, and also in dumb awe of designers proving their magic yet again.)

Having people of color on book covers is a longstanding issue—mainly, that there were zero to none of them through much of book publishing’s history, and when they were included, they were, um… not exactly flattering, or what POC looked like in real life. Standards of beauty have often veered Western and white, and so we could not be more thrilled to see more diverse standards of beauty grace our shelves and stores and just plain exist, y’all.

Thank you, readers and book nerds, for encouraging this trend in every book you read and support. Let’s keep ‘em coming and in the meantime, feast your eyes on these 37 POC illustrated book covers, listed in no particular order.

1. With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on HighEver since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free. Read More.
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2. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for. Read More.
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3. Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them.

Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement. Read More.
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