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Melania Trump fires back at librarian who rejected gift of Dr. Seuss books as ‘racist’

Sep 29, 2017 by

If she does not like 'The Cat in the Hat', why then did she dress like that?

If she does not like ‘The Cat in the Hat’, why then did she dress like that?

First lady Melania Trump fired back Friday at a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who rejected her donation of Dr. Seuss books, claiming their illustrations are examples of “racist propaganda.”

Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for the first lady’s office, said in a statement to Fox News that the response was “unfortunate,” and Mrs. Trump wanted to use her platform “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,” she said. “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.”

To celebrate “National Read a Book Day,” the first lady had sent out a collection of 10 Dr. Seuss books to one school in each state across the nation. The titles included: “The Cat in the Hat”; “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”; “Wacky Wednesday”; “Green Eggs and Ham”; and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

She followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Michelle Obama, who often read Dr. Seuss books to children. Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush also read to children at Dr. Seuss-themed educational events.

‘To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate.’

– First lady Melania Trump’s office

“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,” the first lady wrote in her letter to students. “Please also remember that you are the future of America and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

Image result for Liz Phipps Soeiro photos
But despite the gesture, Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian at a public school in Cambridge, wrote a letter to the first lady, which was then published on The Horn Book blog, notifying Mrs. Trump that her school would “not be keeping the titles” for their collection, explaining that her school didn’t have a “NEED” for the books, due to her school and library’s “award-winning” status.

“I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to ‘excellence,’” Soeiro wrote. “My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science.”

Soeiro went on to slam the White House and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for not gifting the books to “underfunded and underprivileged communities,” which she suggested “continue to be marginalized” by DeVos’ policies.

But Soeiro seemed to be the most offended by the books themselves.

First lady Melania Trump chat with children as she visits American International School of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC18D1ABCC70

First Lady Melania Trump with children at the American International School of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May 2017.  (Reuters)

“Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” Soeiro wrote, giving  examples of “If I Ran a Zoo” and “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” as clear “racist mockery” in Seuss’ art.

‘My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science.’

– Liz Phipps Soeiro, explaining why her school doesn’t need Melania Trump’s book donation

While Soeiro bristled at Melania Trump’s donation, former first lady Michelle Obama also read Dr. Seuss books to children a number of times during the previous administration, without controversy.

First lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Seuss characters the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2, reads to local students as part of her "Let's Move, Let's Read!" initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The book, Dr. Seussís "Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy," has been updated with the help of the Partnership for a Healthier America and includes healthy foods and exercises. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Michelle Obama, with Dr. Seuss characters the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2, reads to local students as part of her “Let’s Move, Let’s Read!” initiative, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The book, Dr. Seussís “Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy,” has been updated with the help of the Partnership for a Healthier America and includes healthy foods and exercises. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)  (AP)

Soeiro seemed to recommend journal articles, reports, and books for Mrs. Trump, to inform her on the “systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.”

“I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out,” Soeiro wrote, attaching a list of 10 books that she hoped would “offer a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband’s administration.”

“You and your husband have a direct impact on these children’s lives,” Soeiro wrote, encouraging the first lady to “reach out” to their “local librarian” for recommendations. “Please make time to learn about and value them.”

Soeiro’s profile on The Horn Book says she is “an advocate for inclusive libraries and active in her community to create spaces that are welcoming to all students.”

Source: Melania Trump fires back at librarian who rejected gift of Dr. Seuss books as ‘racist’ | Fox News

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1 Comment

  1. Where is the basic courtesy, empathy, and kindness? Does this librarian find pleasure in public disrespect?

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