After first lady Melania Trump sent 10 Dr. Seuss books to a Massachusetts elementary school for National Read a Book Day, the school’s librarian returned the books and made a blog post explaining why she said thanks but no thanks.
In a letter titled “Dear Mrs. Trump” posted to the Horn Book blog, Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro said she was returning the Dr. Seuss donation because "my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books."
“My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science. Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school ‘choice’ with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools.”
“Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?” she asked. “Why not reflect on those ‘high standards of excellence’ beyond only what the numbers suggest?”
Soerio also said the first lady should have chosen a less “cliché" collection and also explained the books’ illustrations contain “racist” material.
“Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” she wrote.
In response, the White House sent a statement to NBC Boston explaining Melania is committed to her role as first lady and wants to support children everywhere.
"Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as first lady to help as many children as she can. She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to schools across the country is but one example," Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director, told NBC. "Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the first lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere."
Cambridge Public Schools said they support their employees’ personal opinions; however, Soeiro’s decision to send the books back does not reflect the district.
"We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including donations policies and the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,” CPS said in a statement to NBC.
(Photo: ANDRZEJ HULIMKA/AFP/Getty Images)