When I picked up Jacob’s New Dress at the library and started to read it, I teared up. I thought of all the kids I’ve taught in child care over the years who have been teased for using the “girl clothes” in the dress up centre, all the parents who have been angry when they’ve come to pick up their son and found them in a dress, or the parents who have told me that their child may only wear the dress up clothes that matches their child’s sex. The amount of parents who get upset over this boggles my mind.
Jacob’s New Dress is about a little boy who wants to wear a dress to school. He goes through a few different options like dress up clothes and creating his own “dress-thing” while trying to get his family and peers on board. I loved that his friend Sarah and his teacher was on board with him wearing a dress and were supportive of him from the start. I really loved that his parents were a bit hesitant at the beginning, but were loving and interested in supporting their child. It feels more realistic to what children who are gender non-conforming might face at the start of sharing this with their families.
I truly feel that this book should be in child care centres and classrooms everywhere, regardless of whether that class has a gender non-conforming child in it. By showing children these ideas early on it can teach them empathy and help them to be more supportive of their friends, and to be less confused if they find that they are not interested in the things that they “should” be interested in.
The authors, Sarah and Ian Hoffman, have first hand experience with gender non-conforming children and write at www.sarahandianhoffman.com.