Melania Trump Chides Librarian Who Rejected Her Dr. Seuss Book Donations: This Shouldn't Be 'Divisive'
A spokeswoman for Melania Trump is calling out a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who rejected the first lady’s recent donation of Dr. Seuss books, criticizing them as “clichéd” and full of “racist propaganda.”
Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for the first lady’s office, touted Trump’s commitment to helping children and criticized the librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, for turning the first lady’s “gesture … into something divisive.”
“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 children across the country is but one example,” Grisham said in a statement to PEOPLE. “To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the first lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.”
Phipps Soeiro, the librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently turned down a shipment of 10 Dr. Seuss books from Trump, which were sent as part of a White House effort to mark National Read a Book Day on Sept. 6.
One school from each state was chosen to receive ten Dr. Seuss books along with a letter from the first lady that read: “Getting an education is perhaps the most important and wondrous opportunity of your young lives,” reports CBS Boston.
Phipps Soeiro explained her decision in an editorial for The Horn Book’s reading blog.
“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.
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Phipps Soeiro also faulted the first lady’s choice of books, which included The Cat in the Hat; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; The Foot Book; Green Eggs and Ham;and Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, CBS Boston reported.
“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,” the librarian also wrote, later adding, “Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
While some parents at the school voiced their support for the librarian, she has also faced criticism, including from the Cambridge school district, which reportedly released a statement saying the librarian was “not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district.
“We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,” the statement added.