In a heavy-handed political statement disguised as a ‘thank you’ an elementary school librarian has set the record straight with the Frist Lady. The letter posted on The Horn Book page started with a thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that Melanie Trump had sent to the Cambridgeport Elementary School in
The letter posted on The Horn Book Family Reading blog started with a thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that Melanie Trump had sent to the Cambridgeport Elementary School in Massachusetts.
That’s about as polite as the school’s librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro ever gets. She goes on to explain her school does not need the books.
The librarian made sure to mention that although the gifts were sent in recognition of this year’s National Read a Book Day, it was only sent by second-day air. Mockingly adding that it must have been so expensive.
The librarian continued the political attacks by stating how proud she is of her school.
“Our beautiful and diverse student body is made up of children from all over the world; from different socioeconomic statuses; with a spectrum of gender expressions and identities; with a range of abilities; and of varied racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.” Soeiro
The schools, one school per state, were chosen by the Flotus with the Department of Education to identify schools of excellence.
The librarian went on to thank the first lady for the beautiful and thoughtful books, going on to say thanks but no thanks.
“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.” Soeiro
She went on to promote her district having plenty of resources but then decided to twist the knife a little deeper by stating that teachers and librarians can’t afford to live in this ‘excellent’ district. Basically saying the teachers and she is underpaid, and it’s Trump’s fault.
“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.”
It sounds like thanks for the ten books, but you can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
She then continues and promotes her educational pedigree and how the kids benefit from it.
“My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science. Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance. The American Association of School Librarians has a great infographic on these findings. Many schools around the state and country can’t compete.” Soeiro
And the first lady fired back. In a statement through her office, Stephanie Grisham, director of communications called the librarian’s actions “unfortunate, ” and Mrs. Trump tried to use her platform “to help as many children as she can.”
“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.” Grisham
Also, the librarian called the ten Dr. Seuss books “a bit of a cliche.” Those books were: “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!”
“You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliche, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature,” Soeiro wrote on the Horn Book’s Family Reading blog. “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 and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art.”
And the librarian is getting a ton of backlash for her comments.
The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts – the hometown of Dr. Seuss – was very offended and calling the librarian ridiculous.
“‘One fish – two fish – red fish – blue fish’ – I think her comments ‘stink’ and are ridiculous towards our beloved Dr. Seuss,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said in a press release Thursday evening, according to MassLive.com. “Her comments that this is ‘racist propaganda and that Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliche and a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature’ is ‘political correctness’ at its worst.”
It’s worth noting that former first lady Michelle Obama repeatedly read Dr. Seuss books to children numerous times during her tenure, without any pushback.
The Twitterverse wasn’t having any of Soeiro’s explanations.
The children’s parents, however, supported Soeiro decision.
“That’s the librarian’s prerogative and I support her decision,” parent Eric Munson said.
Another parent felt the librarian was only constructive with her words.
“I think the letter is really articulate, constructive in its suggestions,” said parent Alex Vanpraagh.
The school district did “counsel” the outspoken librarian saying that her actions did not reflect on the school’s viewpoint. It “was not a formal acceptance or rejection of donated books.”
“The employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district,” the statement read. “We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”