Elementary School Librarian Rejects ‘Racist Propaganda’ Dr. Seuss Books From Melania Trump

First Lady Melania Trump speaks with students as she visits a youth centre at Joint Andrews Airforce base, Maryland / Getty
• September 28, 2017 4:45 pm


A Cambridge, Mass. elementary school librarian wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that she would not be keeping a collection of books that First Lady Melania Trump donated to her school.

Liz Phipps Soeiro published a letter to Trump on the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, in which she said that she would not be keeping the books the first lady donated to Cambridge Elementary School, the Hill reported.

Trump donated a collection of ten Dr. Seuss books to one school in each state earlier this month to mark National Read a Book Day.

"I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to ‘excellence,'" Soeiro wrote. "Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an amazing city with robust social programming, a responsive city government, free all-day kindergarten, and well-paid teachers (relatively speaking — many of us can't afford to live in the city in which we teach). My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science."

Soeiro added that the first lady should be donating books to school libraries in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago, because their libraries are being "shuttered" by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

"Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control?" she wrote. "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 criticized Trump's choice of Dr. Seuss as "cliché" and said that he is 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," she wrote. "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."

She then characterized Dr. Seuss's illustrations as racist and said that they were steeped in "racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes," listing several examples in her letter.

Soeiro did not note that former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama both read Dr. Seuss books to children several times during their eight years in the White House. The former president promoted his "Read Across America" initiative last March by reflecting on Dr. Seuss's literature, saying, "Pretty much all the stuff you need to know is in Dr. Seuss."

The Cambridge school system responded to Soeiro's letter to the first lady with a statement that said, "The employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district," CBS Boston reported.

"We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes," the district said.