Earlier this month, the White House announced that one school from each state will receive a book donation from First Lady Melania Trump as part of National Read a Book Day. But not every recipient of Melania’s donation was pleased.
Liz Phipps Soeiro is the librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School who received Massachusetts’ donation and she was less then impressed. Phipps Soeiro thought Melania’s book choices were “a bit cliché” and over done. The books Melania donated were all Dr. Seuss books.Daily Mail
On Phipps Soeiro’s The Horn Book Blog she explained why she wasn’t impressed with the First Lady’s donation. She started off by thanking Melania for the donation and recognizing the school’s “high standards of excellence” before she respectively declined the donation.
Phipps Soeiro thought that Melania’s donation to a school with such high ranking and a library with well over 9,000 books was oversaturated. “Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered…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?”Daily Mail
But the librarian’s argument doesn’t stop there. Despite her library not needing these books because the school is privileged, she also criticized Melania’s selection of donated books. “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,” she wrote. “As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips.”Daily Mail
Then her open letter to Melania continued to explain how Dr. Seuss’ illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes.” She ended her letter by thanking Melania for the gesture, but that it needed to be better thought out for next year.
Phipps Soeiro’s letter may be strongly worded, and to some harsh, but she backs up her saying with facts and resources like any good librarian would.