No good deed goes unpunished. First Lady Melania Trump sent a collection of books to a library in Massachusetts recently. The library rejected the gift. The Dr. Seuss books, one librarian claimed, were little more than “racist propaganda.” The move has shocked many, and now the First Lady has responded.
Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for Melania Trump, issued a statement to Fox News. The library’s decision was “unfortunate,” she wrote. The First Lady’s goal was “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,” Grisham 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.”
The incident began shortly before “National Read a Book Day,” when Trump sent 10 Dr. Seuss books to a school in each of the 50 states. Fox lists the selected 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!”
The Seuss theme has been a go-to for first ladies for more than three decades. Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Barbara Bush all used Seuss books to reach a younger audience.
Melania included a letter with the books she sent. “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. Please also remember that you are the future of America and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Liz Phipps Soeiro wasn’t impressed. She’s the librarian at the public school in Cambridge where the books were sent. She wrote back to the First Lady. “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.”
There was no need for these books there. Soeiro felt like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should have sent the books to “underfunded and underprivileged communities.”
That may be true, but Soeiro was far from finished. The Seuss hater had another bone to pick. “Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,”she wrote.
She then sent the First Lady a reading list. “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. She then named 10 books that would, in her view, “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 concluded. “Please make time to learn about and value them.”