The following is re-posted with permission of the author. I think she adds really good perspective to the controversy surrounding the greatest picture book author to ever set his pen to paper.
Cathy Jo Nelson is a teacher-librarian in South Carolina. If you’re an educator, I’d highly recommend following her blog at: http://blog.cathyjonelson.com/
Sep 29th, 2017 by Cathy Jo Nelson
Did anyone read about or see the news spot about the rejected books that were sent to a school by First Lady Melania Trump in honor of National Read Aloud Day? It was shared on our SC librarians listserv this morning by SCASL Immediate Past President Cindy Symonds as “food for thought.” I didn’t have time to click through the link until this afternoon after school, but read it I did, along with the many responses the post received from other SC Librarians. The consensus it seems, even from the news outlet Cindy shared, was that the librarian rejected the books as a political statement, citing the school is not a needy school and the Dr. Seuss books are a bit “cliche.” The story was also featured in a Horn Book Blog post. I encourage you to view/read the news post and the Horn Book post.
Would I have done the same?
Had I received ten Dr. Seuss books (and I’m a high school librarian,) I would have been a tad unhappy too, but only because of the grade level. I certainly wouldn’t have rejected them. I feel I would have worked to find the right new home for the books. I likely would have offered the books to a school (or more likely, schools) or even daycares, shelters, and other places where the books would have been more appreciated and loved. If I had been seeking a spotlight moment from it, one that might get covered by the 6pm news, I would have shared a public thank you, followed by my plan to regift them. That would have garnered a much more positive spin for the library and school in the article for sure.
Already planned to do something similar
It reminded me that I will be giving away two class sets of books, All American Boys by Jason Reynold and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, once my school finishes using them. Both sets are books from a Donors Choose grant I received, and we want to pay it forward. I shared that with my fellow SC librarians during early August and again today, and I have a lengthy list of friends who want some (or all) of these two sets of books.
National Read a Book Day
Geez! Now I have to go add Sept 6 as National Read a Book Day to my school calendar. We are, after all, well into our third week of school by then. How embarrassing that this day was NOT even on my radar as a day I should promote to my students! That’s the one positive (other than my promise to pay it forward with the grant books I will not need after our book club meetings and class use) that I can take away from this entire issue.