Friday, September 29, 2017

Melania's books and media spin... or... always click the links!

Yesterday, I read an article about a school librarian's decision to reject Melania Trump's gift of books by Dr. Seuss.  The article I read, written by Mike LaCrosse of WBZ TV, seemed to imply that the librarian had haughtily turned her nose up at Mrs. Trump's gift.  When I shared the article among Facebook friends, most of them had the same initial impression I had.

Then a friend of mine from college, herself a school librarian, was the voice of reason among us.  She wrote that she supported Cambridge, Massachusetts school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro's opinions about the donated volumes.  My friend likened the gift to sending iPads to people in Puerto Rico right now.  If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, most of Puerto Rico is currently without power and is dealing with dwindling food and water supplies.  iPads are nice gifts, but they are not what Puerto Rico needs at the moment.  As my college friend pointed out, Dr. Seuss books are not what Liz Phipps Soeiro's students need, either.  And Liz Phipps Soeiro had pointed out the reasons for that in a very eloquently written and basically respectful editorial.

I think it's pretty much human nature to skim things.  After awhile, it became clear that a lot of my friends didn't bother to read the librarian's editorial.  I added a link to the editorial in my post.  A couple of people read it and, like me, had a change of heart.  Others continued to base their opinions solely on Mike LaCrosse's article.  To his credit, LaCrosse does link to the librarian's editorial.  However, as I have noticed in my own blogging, most people don't bother to click links in articles; therefore, they often miss the chance to enhance their viewpoint.

I often add links to my blog posts.  I find that they provide an efficient way to back up some of my opinions, add more information, or broaden perspectives.  I notice that it's rare for readers to actually click the links.  Those who click links mostly don't bother to read much, if at all, beyond titles or headlines.  I understand why people do this.  I'm guilty of it myself.  We want to get information as quickly as possible.  Reading takes time and effort.  Yet if I had just clicked LaCrosse's link to the librarian's editorial when I first shared his article, it would have changed my opinion from the get go.  If it weren't for my college friend, the school librarian, I might still think the school librarian was being a tactless snob by rejecting Mrs. Trump's gift.

My first reaction to reading this story was that there are many schools in the United States-- hell, in Massachusetts, that would love to have those books.  I thought of my days teaching English in Armenia and how valuable books in English were back then (and probably still are today). Dr. Seuss has been around for decades; I remember reading his books when I was a little girl.  I know they are great for teaching kids how to read.  It turns out that the librarian agrees with me, to a point.

Liz Phipps Soeiro's school is made up from kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds.  The school is blessed with a master's level librarian and over 9,000 books in its collection.  Education is highly prized in her community; the school district spends $20,000 annually to educate each student.  And while the school is excellent and that was why Mrs. Trump evidently awarded the books to it, the fact remains that it simply has no need for books by Dr. Seuss.  A well-stocked school library is likely to already have an entire Seuss collection.  Soeiro correctly points out that there are, indeed, other schools who could make better use of them.  She also writes that Dr. Seuss is a bit "old hat" now and that Mrs. Trump should familiarize herself with other titles.  As a fellow book lover, I can't help but agree with Ms. Phipps Soeiro.

If you don't want to read the whole editorial, at least read the last paragraph.  The librarian did not "dis" Melania Trump. 

Still, I suppose it's only natural that most people won't bother to read the librarian's words.  Instead, they want to put a political spin on things.  A couple of people commented that this was solely about people hating on Melania Trump and they feel sorry for her.  I can see why people would assume that.  I know some people pity Mrs. Trump because they think her husband is an asshole and assume she "didn't sign up to be First Lady."

Well, here's my opinion on Melania and her so-called "woes".  First off, while I don't like to see anyone being mistreated by his or her spouse, I do think that if anyone has options, it's someone like Melania Trump.  If she is truly unhappy with the role of Mrs. Trump, First Lady of the United States, she can certainly take steps to end her unhappiness.  There's always divorce.  It's not like Donald Trump hasn't been divorced.  Moreover, Mrs. Trump would have more than enough resources available to her post divorce.  It seems to me that if she really didn't want to be First Lady and Mr. Trump was unwilling to take his wife's wishes into account, she'd be well within her rights to strike out on her own.

On the other hand, if she does actually want to be Donald Trump's wife and is serious about being First Lady, she really needs to step up to the plate.  Part of stepping up to the plate is actively engaging in the job of First Lady and doing some research before she gives a wealthy school district a bunch of books by Dr. Seuss.  With a little foresight, Mrs. Trump could have either given the school a more appropriate gift or given those books to a school that actually needs them.

I looked at Ms. Phipps Soeiro's list of ten books and they are very thoughtfully chosen.  Not only that, but they give other authors a chance to be recognized.  Most everyone in the United States has heard of Dr. Seuss, but there are so many other authors out there whose books should be read.  Mrs. Trump could do a lot to help those authors and the many kids who can relate to their works.  It would be a great way to improve her image and build good will, but it would also be a solid service to children in the United States and children's authors.

I have read much about Mrs. Trump's supposed intelligence.  It's been said that she's very bright.  And yet she basically ripped off one of her first speeches from Michelle Obama.  It took her many months to actually do anything as First Lady and, at least to me, it looks like she's going through the motions because it's expected of her.  Furthermore, though she supposedly speaks many foreign languages, there's little actual proof that she's fluent in more than Slovenian and English (and her English is kind of iffy).  Speaking English and Slovenian is already impressive, but we've already discovered that Mrs. Trump doesn't hesitate to gild the lily when it suits her purposes.  I'll believe she's fluent in five languages when she proves it.

I have linked to this video before and am linking again, because I think it's worth watching.  Click the link!

Even before she married the Donald, Melania Trump embarked on a career that put her in the limelight.  She was in the public eye as a fashion model for years before she became Mrs. Trump.  I would hope someone with her experience would be a little more cognizant about how she appears to the masses.  And, again, while I empathize with Melania Trump as a fellow human being who doesn't like to see other people being abused, I also think Melania Trump can do something if she's truly unhappy in her role as the First Lady or with her life in general (and honestly, I have no idea if Melania is happy-- it's not really my business, anyway).  Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury.


  1. I think the librarian's attitude was a bit snooty in regard to the works of Dr. Suess. It's presently fashionable to snub Dr. Suess. Realistically, though, he was never the panacea for all of the English-speaking world's literacy problems, nor is he the pariah modern educators are painting him to be. Educators are known for swinging pendulums wildly and for jumping on bandwagons . Dr. Suess was simply an author who wrote silly stories using many high frequency words. Some children and adults liked and still like his books, while others find his stories absurd and his language unnatural.

    Almost any school fortunate enough to have a professional librarian has a well-stocked library. Professional librarians typically evaluate resources carefully and make purchases based on needs. While Mrs. Trump's motives were probably altruistic for the most part, it was a poorly-designed way of trying to help the students served by school libraries. While it was surely easier to send the same Dr. Suess volumes to every library, it would have been far more fruitful to ask each librarian what was needed. (Mrs. Trump might even have sent a check or voucher to each school librarian.) Furthermore, had Mrs. Trump consulted virtually any librarian or teacher, she would have learned that Dr. Suess books are not highly esteemed by today's educators.

    When my mom taught elementary school, the school hosted a Scholastic Publishing Company book fair every year. Three teachers or so would be responsible for running it, though all the teachers were required to work shifts. Those who were not in charge of the book fair had other adjunct duties - perhaps coordinating one of the other fund-raisers, or maybe being in charge of the Christmas program, or possibly, as my mom did, directing the after-school choir all year. At the end of the Scholastic book fair every year, depending upon how much money in sales was earned, each teacher would get a number of free books published by Scholastic for classroom libraries. The teachers in charge of the book fair insisted upon choosing the books themselves for the teachers rather than allowing the teachers to pick, mainly because it would have required a bit of sorting at the end to ensure that each teachers got the books he or she ordered. Books were picked without regard for what any teacher needed or already had in her classroom library. it was essentially a waste. With what were, I would like to assume, good intentions, Mrs. Trump did essentially the same thing as the teachers in charge of my mom's school's book fair did.

    1. Yeah. It was kind of an empty gesture.

      I, myself, don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with Dr. Seuss books. But I do agree that it’s probably time some other authors were recognized.

      I also think it’s too bad people don’t read more, whether it’s a book or an editorial written by a librarian.

  2. I love that you challenge the world around you. By reading your blog I am provoked to really liSten and read so that I am better informed. It just goes to show you that in a sound bite, quick information world we are easily manipulated by our own inability to see past the smoke & mirrors. People rarely think for themselves anymore. They allow the media and their talking heads to tell them what to think. I too thought the Librian was being snobbish, in actuality she was simply pointing out what the real needs were for the library. I am now more informed and my opinion had changed. Thank you for casting a light.

    1. Thanks so much. I totally see why people were put off by the librarian's comments, but under the circumstances, I understand why she wrote what she did. It's pretty hard for me to take the Trumps seriously. I have never felt this way about any prior president, even W. I seriously just want them the fuck out of Washington.


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