Note: This post is part of a series on School Library Media/Materials for a course

Hoffman, S., Hoffman, I. & Case, C. (illus.) (2014). Jacob’s new dress. Chicago: Albert Whitman.

There are many different ways to be a boy. Jacob loves playing dress-up and loves wearing dresses. Some kids at school say that boys don’t wear dresses and they don’t play princess. Jacob loves dresses. He wants to wear one to school. With his mom, Jacob creates a special new dress for school. This book challenges traditional gender stereotypes and gender roles while reinforcing the idea of being true to one’s self. The message is clear: there are many different ways to be a boy.

This book is a great introduction to younger children about LGBTI issues in an indirect and thoughtful manner. The book introduces the idea of boys wearing dresses without pushing an agenda or being too heavy-handed in message. Because of the subtlety of the message, the book would quite easily fit into curriculum as just another book about differences. The art is accessible and supportive of the text. The only issue I can think of is that a book like this may face more challenges from parents who are not as open-minded about LGBTI communities. Having materials like this in the school library is important for children to fully understand the world around them, which may include boys who like to wear dresses. This book provides a necessary element to young children in that understanding.

English/Language Arts Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Links to supporting content:

My Son Wears Dresses and that’s OK with Me

This Boy wears a Tutu

Princess Dresses aren’t Just for Girls

What’s So Bad about a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?

Gender Non-conforming Picture Books

Subjects/themes: identity, LGBTQI, self-acceptance

Bonus: President Roosevelt as a child: