CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —The Cambridge Public School District says one of its librarians didn’t have permission when she tried to reject a book donation from Melania Trump.
The librarian’s school was among one school from each state chosen to receive 10 Dr. Seuss books from the First Lady for National Read a Book Day. Each school was chosen for its “high standards of excellence,” according to the White House.
Trump sent a personal letter along with the books. The librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, later published this letter on her blog, along with a response letter about why she declined the gift.
In Soeiro’s response, she cites the school’s ample resources as the reason for her decline.
“Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization and school ‘choice’ with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers and their schools. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control?” she wrote.
Soeiro goes on to call Dr. Seuss a “cliche” who builds his stories on “racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.” She then criticizes Trump for choosing such books over the “world-class resources” available to Trump as First Lady.
Soeiro went on to publish a follow-up list of books that Trump could have donated instead.
Books on the list include “Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation,” by Duncan Tonatiuh; “Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation,” by Edwidge Danticat; and “Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music,” by Margarita Engle.
Cambridge Public Schools says the letter written by Liz Soeiro represented her opinions and was not an official statement on behalf of the school district.
The district says it has “counseled” the librarian on its policies. It says her letter “was not a formal acceptance or rejection of donated books.”
In an interview with the “Washington Post,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham responded to Soerio’s letter: “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.”