Melania Trump’s spokeswoman on Thursday fired back at a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who recently rejected a book donation from the first lady.
Liz Phipps Soeiro of Cambridgeport Elementary School turned down a collection of 10 books by children’s literary author Dr. Seuss last Tuesday.
“Mrs. Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can,” Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham told NBC Boston.
“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,” she added.
“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.”
Some Twitter users on Thursday and Friday derided Soeiro’s decision, while others lauded the librarian’s move.
The White House had previously chosen one school in all 50 states to receive Trump’s donation as part of an initiative promoting childhood literacy and education.
Soeiro last Tuesday, however, penned an editorial for the Horn Book’s Family Reading Blog detailing why her school did not need the package.
“My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in literary science,” she wrote.
“Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance.”
Soeiro additionally questioned Seuss for being the lone author Trump highlighted, citing past controversy over his illustrations.
“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,” she said.
“Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
The Cambridge School system on Wednesday released a statement distancing itself from Soeiro’s remarks.
“In this instance, the employee was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district,” it said.
“We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes.”