In celebration of National Read a Book Day on Sept. 6, Trump and the Department of Education chose a school in each state to receive 10 Dr. Seuss books based on school programs that have “achieved high standards of excellence, recognized by State and National awards and Blue Ribbon Awards.”
Cambridgeport School was one of those selected, but librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro decided to decline the offer.
In an open letter published on Horn Book’s website on Tuesday, Phipps Soeiro explained that her school is located city where “yearly per-pupil spending … is well over $20,000.” The librarian suggested the books would be better off in “underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”
″[My] school doesn’t have a NEED for these books,” Phipps Soeiro wrote. She argued that Trump’s access to Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress, should have resulted in a less “tired and worn” selection of titles. Seuss books, she said, are also “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.” (Potentially racist themes in Seuss’ work are a widely discussed topic in children’s literature.)
Phipps Soeiro closed the note by thanking Trump for the recognition, and reminding her of the responsibility the first lady and President Donald Trump have to children across the country:
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. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy…