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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Jacob's New Dress

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Author/Publisher/Website: Hoffman, S.; Hoffman I.
Copyright: 2014
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9780807563731
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: K-3
(View recommended grades and subjects)

Resource Description

Jacob likes to run and play like most children but unlike many boys he likes to play dress-up and wants a princess dress. His Mom helps him make one but when he wears it to school he is bullied by some boys who tell him that boys can’t wear dresses. With the support of friends, family, and teachers Jacob becomes determined, confident, courageous, and happy with himself and his decision to wear his dress. This picture book is suitable as a read-aloud and for discussion of non-conformity, gender expression, acceptance, and celebrating uniqueness, and it encourages students to understand and be compassionate towards peers who are different. Sensitivity is advised to ensure all students feel comfortable during discussion.


Does the resource support BC curriculum?
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
The book supports PreK-3 PHE Big Ideas: Learning about ourselves and others helps us develop a positive attitude and caring behaviours, which helps us build healthy relationships. The book also supports PreK-3 ELA: Everyone has a unique story; Stories help us learn about ourselves, our families, and our communities. The story sheds light on, and offers support and hope to, children who are 'gender non-conforming', like Jacob, who wishes to express himself differently than his male peers.


Gender Roles, Identity & Sexual Orientation:
Young Jacob presents as different from his male peers. At home and school, his interests and self-expression are reflective of the traditional female role.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Social Considerations Comments:
Jacob presents as determined, confident, and courageous. He wants the freedom and approval to express himself how he wishes, even though that means his choices don't conform to the traditional male role. As a young boy, Jacob is saddened by the intolerance he experiences from some boys at school, however, he takes comfort in the support he receives from others. It is important to recognize that for many people like Jacob, the bullying may be extreme in comparison. For some readers, this book may be an introduction to this theme and their responses could vary. Backstory and extended study of inclusive education is recommended.


Is the resource engaging?
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
The story is topical and highly relevant in today's classrooms. The plot is detailed, moving, and poignant as it applauds Jacob for his courage and desire to express his true self regardless of consequences. While the story is relatively light and age-appropriate, it does expose the reality that society still is in the beginning stages of embracing the differences of non-gender conforming citizens. This is important for young students to explore in an effort to bring more awareness to this issue. The plot unfolds in a familiar home and school setting with adults having mixed yet supportive feelings about Jacob's self-expression, and children acting as typical, naive, and impressionable.


Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Is the location of illustrations appropriate?
Is the resource easy to use?
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
The picture book features vivid watercolour images that bring the story to life with movement and light and darker palettes. Illustrations effectively capture important moments and evoke mood by varying the size and placement of objects and characters, incorporating thumbnail sketches, and detailing the foreground and background. The characters' faces are simply drawn yet highlight intended emotions. The text is uniform and is carefully spaced in chunks with a primary size dark font for accessibility. The cover is inviting and presented in nine whimsical squares of Jacob playing and enjoying his new dress. An epilogue from authors and an education consultant is included.


Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Plot description:
Jacob is a little boy who likes to run and play like all kids his age and he enjoys spending time with friends and family. But Jacob is different and proud of it. He wants to dress up like a princess and wear a special dress that his Mom helps him to make. Jacob feels so comfortable and free when he can express himself, yet at school this poses a challenge when he is bullied by some of the boys, Christopher in particular. Christopher says boys don't wear dresses - he learned that from his father. Jacob is saddened but not deterred. With growing support from his parents, teacher, and friends, Jacob feels confident being himself.
Related Comments:
The story is accessible for all audiences and highlights challenges faced by gender non-conforming kids. Students like Jacob exist in many of our schools. The story encourages readers to develop an understanding of, and compassion for, those who present as different from their typical peers. Jacob's perspective is clearly conveyed. The emotions of all characters just skim the surface, yet are powerfully conveyed with imagery. The text is detailed, expressive, and purposefully written for a younger audience. The story will be a great springboard for class discussion about gender non-conformity and the importance of acceptance and allowing others to celebrate their uniqueness.
Literary Highlights:
Well-developed themes
Point of view
picture book
Visual Highlights:
picture book


At intended grade level(s)
The inspiration for Jacob's New Dress came from the authors whose son, Sam, presented as what is called gender non-conforming. The book has had many positive reviews since publication in 2014. The book has faced some controversy, however, and was banned from schools in North Carolina. The book has useful, free lesson plans available online that were created by different school districts.


The resource is timely and important for exploring personal health and emotional well-being and it would complement a themed study of SOGI-inclusive education. It would be ideal for a classroom read-aloud though teachers need to be sensitive to the diversity of the audience and ensure that all students feel comfortable during a classroom discussion. Students can brainstorm various ways to express themselves, using art, drama, or writing, and consider the idea that we all have personal rights and freedoms. With guidance, students can consider scenarios of bullying and discuss ways to bring awareness to others so that interactions at school and at home can be supportive and free of ignorance.