An elementary school librarian in Massachusetts refused an offer of free books from First Lady Melania Trump after her school was selected as the state’s National Read-a-Book Day winner by the White House.
The White House chose one school in every state to receive a collection of ten Dr. Seuss books.
“As I was thinking about your return to school, I wanted to send you a special gift. Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go! is a book my son and I have read over and over again, and one that we want to share with all of you,” Mrs. Trump wrote to the school.
Cambridgeport Elementary’s librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, found the gift ill-thought and according to a letter she sent back to the first lady, she seemed to be offended by the award.
You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.
Because five, six and seven-year-old kids hate rhyming books with colorful images that draw them into reading them over-and-over. According to Ms. Soerio, Melania should have gone to the Library of Congress and selected a headier set of titles. Seriously?
She then went on a politically-motivated social justice rant:
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? Why not reflect on those “high standards of excellence” beyond only what the numbers suggest?
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.
This is who is educating America’s children and we wonder why we are the 24th in the world in reading despite all this diversity, money, social justice and such.
If the librarian was so worried that her school was over-privileged, she should have accepted the award and asked permission from the administrators to gift the collection to a school of her choice.