Melania Trump has responded after a librarian at a Cambridge, Massachusetts, elementary school wrote publicly about rejecting books the first lady sent to schools across the country for National Read a Book Day.
“Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as first lady to help as many children as she can,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokesperson said. “She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to schools across the country is but one example.”
“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 said.
Trump included a letter with the ten Dr. Seuss books she sent to schools that told the children how important their education is and then shared her personal experience with the author’s books:
“As I was thinking about your return to school, I wanted to send you a special gift,” Trump wrote. “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.”
“Remember, the key to achieving your dreams begins with learning to read,” Trump wrote. “Find what you enjoy, anything that interests you, and read about it. Every page will take you on an exciting journey.”
“My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science,” Phipps Soeiro wrote.
Phipps Soeiro also said that her school “does not have a need for these books,” claiming that underfunded school districts that are shutting down their libraries due to school choice programs could put the books to better use.
But her critique of the first lady’s gift did not end there. She also criticized Melania’s choice of books, calling the Dr. Seuss titles “tired cliches” for children’s literature.
“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,” Phipps Soeiro worte. “As first lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips.”
Phipps Soeiro added that the Dr. Seuss books contained illustrations “steeped in racist propaganda” and offered an alternate list of ten books that include two titles advocating for the legalization of illegal aliens.
Cambridgeport Elementary School reacted to the librarians’ comments by issuing a statement that said the opinions expressed in Phipps Soeiro’s editorial do not reflect the school district or the school itself.
The school said that the librarian has been “counseled” on school policies regarding political activity:
In this instance, the employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district. We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.
The Office of the First Lady announced on September 6 that in honor of National Read a Book Day, Trump would send Dr. Seuss books to schools across the country that had been recognized for educational excellence.