NYC Adds Book About Crossdressing to K-2 Reading List

The NYC Department of Education has updated its K-2 reading list to include a book about a little boy learning to cross-dress. The book, Jacob’s New Dress, has courted controversy, showing up in school classrooms and media centers. Now, it is officially recommended to read in New York City for ages under eight.

The new change to NYC’s reading list was first reported by Chaya Raichik of LibsOfTikTok, who posted a screenshot directly from the Department of Education’s website.

“These are the books [NYC Department of Education] is promoting for your kids to read,” she wrote.

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The description reads,

“Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear ‘girl’ clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by children who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.”

Jacob’s New Dress was recommended as part of NYC’s “Read 365” program, which aims to encourage children to read for fun.

According to images of the book posted online, the story begins with Jacob playing dress-up with his classmates at school one day. The boy discovers a sparkly pink dress and crown and tells his classmates, “I’ll be the princess.” While the classmates find this strange, Jacob’s parents encourage him. His mother makes him a dress he proudly wears to school, and his father remarks, “well, it’s not what I would wear, but you look great.”

Educators have defended the book in the past, saying its central message is to encourage uniqueness and prevent bullying rather than promote gender ideology in classrooms.

However, a sequel to the book was released in 2021 with the title Jacob’s School Play: Starring He, She, and They. That story follows Jacob and his new non-binary classmate Ari, as the duo “gently introduces readers to gender identity and pronoun use.” The Amazon description of the book proudly describes Jacob’s New Dress as “one of the most banned books of the decade.”

Jacob’s New Dress was removed from a North Carolina school system in 2017 after the North Carolina Values Coalition objected. A spokesman for the organization was reported by the New York Times as saying, “It’s clearly geared to young children. The book is meant as a tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behavior. I think a lot of parents would object to that.”

“We believe the purpose of first grade is to teach writing, reading and math and not to teach boys to wear dresses.”

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The book stirred controversy again last November after students at a Kansas City-area preschool were instructed to read the book and discuss it with their parents. The school district pulled the book after receiving parent complaints.

According to a report by the Orlando Sentinel, Seminole County Schools in Florida also reportedly pulled the book in response to the DeSantis administration’s “Stop Woke” act.

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