Whitewashing: when judging a book by its cover goes wrong - KMOV.com

Whitewashing: when judging a book by its cover goes wrong

(KMOV) -- You can't judge a book by it's cover. Literally.

Some readers claim that the covers of some children's books are not only misleading, but they're racist.

Malachi Holden not only loves to read, he also know when to read between the lines. One of Holden's books, "The Mysterious Benedict Society," is an example of a misleading pattern in publishing. This children's book has an African American as the main character, but if one were to look at the cover, this would never be known.

"They have pictures of him on the inside, and he's African American. But not on the outside cover," says Holden. "That obviously cannot be mistaken."

The publisher calls it a mistake, but critics call it something else. "'Whitewashing' of book covers basically means taking a book that is basically about a person of color and putting a white person on the cover instead, " says Sarah Pritchard of Left Bank Books.

"There does seem to be this idea in the publishing community, that if a book is about a character of color and there's a character of color on the cover of a book, that people aren't going to want to buy it," says Pritchard.

Left Bank Books in the Central West End points to nearly a dozen examples of 'whitewashing.'

Last summer Bloomsbury Publishing had to change the cover of a book that was racially misleading. Bloomsbury Publishing denies that race has anything to do with the change, calling it a misunderstanding.

Left Bank Books is asking customers to sign a petition against publishers who 'whitewash' book covers.

"I would seriously think about how we're going to talk to our publishers about what's going on because it's serious issue," says Pritchard.

And for now, some readers say they do have a reason to judge a book by its cover.


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