Melania Trump reads Party Animals by Kathie Lee Gifford to children during the White House Easter Egg Roll on April 17, 2017.
By Win McNamee/.
Melania Trump has a new battle to fight as First Lady, one with an elementary school librarian from Massachusetts. Trump has been sending a donation of books to one school from each state as part of National Read a Book Day along with a signed letter in which she writes, “Getting an education is perhaps the most important and wondrous opportunity of your young live,” The library at Cambridge Elementary School outside of Boston, thoguh, won’t be accepting her gift.
The school’s librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, published a letter on The Horn Books Family Reading blog explaining her decision to refuse the First Lady’s donation of Dr. Seuss titles. She noted that her school was chosen due to its “high standards of excellence,” and because of that, had no need for the books. She then asked why the First Lady wouldn’t put her resources toward schools that are struggling.
“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,” she wrote. “Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? 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?”
Soeiro then explained her issues with Trump’s specific choice in books, calling Dr. Seuss “a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature,” and suggested that Trump could have reached out to Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden to discover other options. Additionally, she wrote that “another fact many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” linking out to the article “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away From Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books.”
CBS News spoke to parents outside of the school on Wednesday who were supportive of Soeiro’s decision to publish the letter. Parent Eric Munson told CBS, “That’s the librarian’s prerogative and I support her decision,” while another parent, Alex Vanpraagh, said, “I think the letter is really articulate, constructive in its suggestions.”
Though the parents may be fine with the letter, the Cambridge School District was quick to distance itself from it. “The employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district,” they wrote in a statement. “We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”
While the kids at Cambridge Elementary may not be getting any books from the First Lady, Soeiro did mention that they were very impressed with the White House Stamp on her letter.
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