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First lady Melania Trump visits with children at a youth center at Andrews Air Force Base. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

First Lady Melania Trump's office has responded to a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who rejected Dr. Seuss books the White House sent for National Read a Book Day," according to NBC Washington.

"Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate," press secretary Stephanie Grisham told NBC, "but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere."

Background:

  • Trump sent books to "one high-achieving school in every state," the Washington Post reported.
  • The librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, wrote a letter to Trump, explaining that her school did not have a need for the books because the school is in "a district that has plenty of resources."
  • She added that Dr. Seuss books have "illustrations...steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes."

Other points from Soeiro's letter:

  • Dr. Seuss "is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children's literature."
  • Soeiro attached "a list of ten books...that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband's administration."
  • "Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?"

Go deeper

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.

52 mins ago - Health

America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The race to figure out just how dangerous the Omicron variant is will likely be a global effort, but some experts are skeptical that the U.S. will play a dominant role.

Why it matters: The CDC has repeatedly come under fire for inadequate data collection throughout the pandemic — and figuring out how to respond to Omicron requires a lot of data that doesn't currently exist.

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.