Kids across the country celebrate Dr. Seuss in school each year, with days dedicated to “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Cat in the Hat”. Pretty much every elementary school in the country has had or will have a Dr. Seuss day this school year, so when news broke that a school librarian rejected a donation of Seuss books made by First Lady Melania Trump, it made headlines.
Why were the books rejected when they are generally considered classic readers for children in lower grades?
A First Lady’s Platform
As part of a celebration of “National Read a Book Day”, Melania Trump sent collections of Dr. Seuss titles to elementary schools across the country. One of the books, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” was described by the First Lady as one of her favorite books, and one she read repeatedly to son Barron when he was younger.
The majority of schools received the books with gratitude; in a time of shrinking budgets and in particular, school library budget cuts, a fresh infusion of reading materials is always welcome.
One librarian, though, refused to accept the books that were gifted to the students at Cambridgeport School. Citing her dislike of the Trump administration and the “racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes” found in Dr. Seuss books, librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro chose to reject the books instead of adding them to the shelves for kids to enjoy.
In a letter to Melania Trump, the librarian chastised the president and first lady for the gift, stating that they should instead be “devoting resources to schools in underfunded and underprivileged communities” that are “marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”
According to White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump was giving the books to schools as part of her platform “to help as many children as she can.”
“Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere,” Grisham continued.
Other efforts by the First Lady include hosting an upcoming discussion on the opioid epidemic plaguing schools and teens throughout the nation and upcoming speaking events for anti-bullying initiatives.
Books to Help Kids Learn to Read
In a letter included with the gift, Melania Trump called education “perhaps the most important and wondrous opportunity of your young lives.”
“Your education will be a lifelong pursuit that will sustain and carry you far beyond your wildest imagination, if you will let it,” she said. “Remember, the key to achieving your dreams begins with learning to read.”
The 10 books rejected by the Cambridgeport school include:
• “Because a Little Bug Went KaChoo”
• “What Pet Should I Get?”
• “The Cat in the Hat”
• “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!”
• “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”
• “The Foot Book”
• “Wacky Wednesday”
• “Green Eggs and Ham”
• “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
Dr. Seuss books have been part of the NEA’s Read Across America Day for several decades. Over 45 million American school children take part in this annual event, which aims to increase literacy and inspire a love of reading.
Acting Out of Turn
The school district responded to inquiries about the rejected gift by stating that the librarian was not authorized to reject books that were donated to the school and students, according to CBS Boston.
“We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,” according to a written statement from the school district. No further comments were available to the press.
The rejection of a gift designed to promote literacy and of fresh copies of books that were likely already in the library collection in the first place was politically motivated, as pointed out by the school district’s statement. In trying to make a point to the First Lady, this librarian deprived students of reading materials and made an arbitrary decision without consulting school or district leadership.
In a time when school libraries are desperate for funds and books, these individuals are effectively prioritizing political correctness above education.
~ Conservative Zone