School Library Rejects Melania Trump Donation for Dumbest Reason Possible

First Lady Melania Trump reads a book to children at the annual Easter Egg roll at the White House on April 17, 2017. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca, Sipa via AP Images)

Melania Trump, in her role as first lady, sent books to a number of libraries as part of National Read A Book Day. Rather than a thank you from one school library, the response was an intentional slap in the face of the first lady and her efforts to do something good for the kids.

Thank you for the ten Dr. Seuss titles that you sent my school library in recognition of this yearโ€™s  National Read a Book Day. (Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive.) Iโ€™m proud that you recognized my school as something special. It truly is. 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.

According to the White House website, you selected one school per state by โ€œworking with the Department of Education to identify schools with programs that have achieved high standards of excellence, recognized by State and National awards and Blue Ribbon Awardsโ€ฆโ€ Each of those carefully vetted schools received ten books: Seuss-isms!Because a Little Bug Went KaChoo; What Pet Should I Get?The Cat in the HatI Can Read with My Eyes Shut!; One FishTwo Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishThe Foot BookWacky WednesdayGreen Eggs and Ham; and Oh, the Places Youโ€™ll Go!.

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. Iโ€™d like to respectfully offer my explanation.

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So, my school doesnโ€™t have a NEED for these books. And then thereโ€™s the matter of the books themselves. You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a clichรฉ, a tired and worn ambassador for childrenโ€™s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal childrenโ€™s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.

Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seussโ€™s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and youโ€™ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynchโ€™s School Library Journal article, โ€œIs the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,โ€ reports on Katie Ishizukaโ€™s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seussโ€™s characters. Scholar Philip Nelโ€™s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Childrenโ€™s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature

 

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