“my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books”
A school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts has rejected a book donation from First Lady Melania Trump.
Liz Phipps Soeiro claims that her school doesn’t need the books and also scoffed at Ms. Trump’s choice of titles.
CBS News reported:
Librarian explains why she rejected books donated by Melania Trump
A librarian at the Cambridgeport Elementary School in Massachusetts is declining a shipment of books from first lady Melania Trump.
One school from each state was chosen by the White House to receive 10 Dr. Seuss books as part of National Read a Book Day, CBS Boston reports.
“Getting an education is perhaps the most important and wondrous opportunity of your young lives,” Trump said in a letter to the children who will be receiving books.
The school’s librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, wrote a lengthy editorial for the Horn Book’s Family Reading blog explaining why her school does not need the books.
Here are some excerpts from the post Ms. Soeiro wrote at the Horn Book blog:
Dear Mrs. Trump
Thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that you sent my school library in recognition of this year’s National Read a Book Day. (Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive.) I’m proud that you recognized my school as something special. It truly is…
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. I’d like to respectfully offer my explanation.
My school and my library are indeed award-winning. I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to “excellence.” 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.
From there, she goes after the choice of titles. Dr. Seuss is problematic, you see:
So, my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books. And then there’s the matter of the books themselves. 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.
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,” reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters.
Here’s a video report from CBS News:
Soeiro and her defenders are claiming this isn’t political. I don’t believe them. Do you honestly believe a book donation from Michelle Obama would be rejected on any grounds? The former First Lady could send any books and the gift would have been praised.
Twitchy has compiled some responses to The Hill’s report on this:
— The Hill (@thehill) September 28, 2017
The books were Dr. Seuss books.
The librarian is a petty bitch. https://t.co/xs35YsvNQ0
— RBe (@RBPundit) September 28, 2017
How many of you loved Dr. Seuss books as a kid and your kids love them too? ????♀ pic.twitter.com/LHpHshBBgZ
— Mostradamus (@molratty) September 28, 2017
Politics before kids education. Great job.
— Captain America (@280Zdriver) September 28, 2017
This teacher needs a reality check. Playing politics over children’s books is ridiculous.
— Wayne Trendy (@TrendyNewsBits) September 28, 2017
Noooo. This isn’t an issue of politics… Sad… You take the books like you’d take any gift. Graciously. Find an appropriate home.
— Maureen Kelly (@MaureennKelly) September 28, 2017
How rude of this librarian. Her priorities seem way off, esp. for a *librarian.*
Just say “Thank you” – and let the kids read.
— Anna Herrington (@JustThinkingNow) September 28, 2017
This is truly the dumbest time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/So10YcLTUR
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) September 28, 2017
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