First Lady Fires Back After School Rejects Book Donation

Melania Trump responded after a librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, rejected 10 Dr. Seuss books sent by the first lady.

(Published Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017)

Melania Trump has responded after a Massachusetts school librarian rejected a shipment of 10 Dr. Seuss books sent by the first lady as part of National Read a Book Day.

In a lengthy letter titled “Dear Mrs. Trump” posted to the Horn Book blog, Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro thanked the first lady for the note she sent to students at the school, but said she was returning the books because "...my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books." She added, "Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities...?"

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She also suggested that more thought could have gone into the selection of the books, saying that "Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché..."

The White House responded to NBC Boston's request for comment on Thursday afternoon.

"Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can. 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," said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director. "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."

Many in Cambridge said they agreed with the school librarian's decision to send back the books.

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"The people in the White House need to do some homework on different topics, and Cambridge does not need extra books," resident Dan Trajman said.

"Perhaps the nature of the books that were selected could be a bit more thoughtful as well," noted Chris Walter, the parent of a Cambridgeport Elementary School student.

"Given that we are in Cambridgeport, I think that’s to be expected that they’re going to make a political statement," said Natasha Ristivojevic, a Cambridge mother.

Still others were surprised that any school would turn away a cornerstone of learning.

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"She should have said thank you to that, not sent them back," parent Renaud Vinson said.

"I think all books are readable," added Maeve Condon. "I think that no matter what your opinion is, if there’s multiple, then that’s great. That means two kids can take them out at the same time."

Cambridge Public Schools said they support their employees’ right to voice personal opinions, but noted, "We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including donations policies and the policy against public resources being used for political purposes."