Ms. Porter's Second Grade Library Class versus Barnes and Noble Bookstores

Eight-year-olds can be fierce Davidic champions. For example, second-graders in Concord were mad because they couldn't find my books in most of the chain stores in Massachusetts. I was cc'ed as this letter went out to Barnes and Noble last week, and reprint it here with permission. Thanks, Ms. Porter's class!

June 2nd, 2010

Barnes and Noble Inc
122 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10011

Dear Madam or Sir,

Mitali Perkins is a very good author. We think other customers would like to read her books. We think many of your customers would like her style of writing. We highly recommend them because her writing is very good. Her books can teach life lessons.

For example, we read one of her books called Rickshaw Girl and we loved it. In Rickshaw Girl, Naima, who is the main character, lives in a time when girls are not allowed to work and she feels that that is not fair. Naima lives in a small poor village in Bangladesh and she can’t afford to go to school at the same time as her sister.

We think it’s a book from which you can learn. It is a “Windows” book about someone else’s experience or a life different for various people. I hope you buy and sell these books so people can learn about India and Bangladesh. This book is a “mirror” for Indian-Americans and we think they should have a chance to read books about their heritage.

So we were surprised when we figured out that most of your bookstores in Massachusetts don’t carry her books. Why do you not carry Mitali Perkins’ books in your bookstore?!  

Is it because you don’t know who Mitali Perkins is? Do you not carry her books because your customers have not asked if you have them? Is it because you don’t know about her books? Or is it because Barnes and Noble doesn’t carry Indian-American books? Do you not carry her books because they are not well-known? Or do you think it is because the customers won’t like them? Is it because your bookstore likes to carry series titles because you will make more money with repeat customers? 

You are a big bookstore. Therefore, we would expect you to carry her books because you have room for different kinds of books. Do you want to carry her books and if you don’t why not? 

Will you please get her books in all your stores sooner rather than later? Please reply and tell us why you don’t have her books in your bookstore.

Yours Sincerely,

Dictated by Ms. Porter’s Second Grade Library class 

Nashoba Brooks School
200 Strawberry Hill Road
Concord, MA 01742


askdrlibrary said…
Hooray for Ms. Porter and her second grade class! My middle school and high school kids love your books, too, Mitali!
Gregory K. said…
That is so fabulous. I can't wait until they get a reply....
Lisa Gail Green said…
That is beautiful! I love it! I hope Barnes and Noble responds... they deserve it!
Megan Frazer said…
Bravo! If they get a reply, please share it.
Mitali Perkins said…
I hope they hear back, too. It is so marvelous to be championed by children.
Hema P. said…
Hi Mitali, I'm here after listening to your interview at Suma Subramaniam's blog. I thought you handled the questions that Suma lobbed at you wonderfully :).

I especially liked your answers to Suma's questions regarding advice for authors writing cross-cultural themes (which I am, currently) and also rejection.

I have read your book "Rickshaw Girl" and loved it -- you used simple, but immediate language to tell that story.

I look forward to reading "Bamboo People"!
Wow. That's a great letter. Hooray for those kids. Please do let us know if they get an answer!
Hema P. said…
Mitali, I just came back to read the letter Ms. Porter's class has written. How adorable!
Hope their voices are heard and big book stores all over the country begin to carry books that teach about different cultures to kids!!
Astha Agarwal said…
I completely support Ms. Porters's class! I went to Barnes and Nobles about a month ago, and the only one of your books I could find was Rickshaw Girl. I hope the class gets a reply! --Astha Agarwal
AnneB said…
Hooray for Ms. Porter's kids. Can't wait to hear what happens. Hope B&N takes notice.
Doret said…
I loved that letter. I really wish more people did that.

If people go into a Chain bookstore, and they see the children's section lacks in diversity. Tell someone, don't just walk out, because nothing will change if you don't.

And if you like the selection, support it by buying something. Let the manager know you will be back because of it and spread the word. Make sure your friends talk to the manager as well.

Its very important that Chains know that not only do people want, need and deserve diversity but they will support it as well.

Sales is one thing Chains will always understand

If its only one letter Ms. Porter's class won't being hearing back from BN.

One letter is only one missed sale. Now several letters may get a response.

Something would also be done if a large number of students went into the same BN asking for Rickshaw Girl, at various times over a period of a week or two.

Rather than order the not instock title each student walked out. If its a smart store by the sixth customer , they will be counting the missed sales and seeing how fast they can get Rickshaw Girl in stock.

The store I work at carries Secret Keeper. I am luckily enough to work with good managers, who actually listen to me.
Anonymous said…
I suspect they will be carrying Bamboo People soon with our without the encouragement of these kids. It is destined for greatness.
How wonderful that the kids took matters into their own hands and composed that letter. Congrats to Ms. Porter and her 2nd grade class for taking a stand and asking questions! You'll have to post an update when they hear back from B & N. We have the same problem with all the big chain bookstores where I live - there is no diversity when it comes to children or young adult literature. Very frustrating!
Joe said…
HAHAHA I LOVE this. Way to go 2nd graders. Way to go.
Jessica Leader said…
I love this letter truly, madly, deeply. I especially like (well, so many things)--but especially when they said, "It is a Window book." That's just the kind of language you use in a classroom, and somehow it really cheers me to see them telling B&N how they ought to see books. This letter was a Window Letter in itself!