When first lady Melania Trump sent packages of Dr. Seuss children’s books to one deserving school in each state across the country to celebrate National Read-a-Book Day earlier this month, she likely didn’t expect any of them to be rejected.
But that’s just what Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian at Cambridgeport Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, did.
“My students were interested in reading your enclosed letter and impressed with the beautiful bookplates with your name and the indelible White House stamp, however, we will not be keeping the titles for our collection,” wrote Soeiro in an open letter on a book blog, saying her reasons for rejecting the Seuss titles, 10 in total, was due to her school being in a district that already had plenty of resources. She also heartily disagrees with the Trump administration’s education platforms.
Additionally, Soeiro is not a big fan of Dr. Seuss.
“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,” Soeiro wrote to Trump. “As first lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. 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.”
Soeiro said Seuss’s illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes.”
East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham, fired back at Soeiro.
“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,” she said.
According to the White House, before sending the books, the first lady worked with the Education Department to select schools around the nation that had high standards of excellence, special programs and that been recognized for achievement.