I would like to start this blog post by stating my opinion; most banned books should not be banned. That kind of censorship in schools is unnecessary, and some books are banned for the most ridiculous reasons. For example in 2010 the Texas Board of Education banned the book Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carl. Why would a school ban a book which is literally just about colors and animals? Simple, they mistook the famous author, Bill Martin Jr, for Bill Martin, the author of a controversial book Ethical Marxism.
While there are literally hundreds of banned and challenged young adult books, I’ve done projects on these books before (thank you to my high school freshmen English teacher Mrs. Telschow), but I had not given much thought to banned picture books before we read And Tango Makes Three in class. So I will be discussing the picture book Jacob’s New Dress.
Jacob’s New Dress has been banned and challenged in various different school districts and states, but I will be discussing the instance of the book being removed from an elementary school anti-bullying curriculum in North Carolina.
“The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic, not to encourage boys to wear dresses,” Tami Fitzgerald of the North Carolina Values Coalition said Tuesday, according to the Charlotte Observer. “These lessons found in the ‘Jacob’s New Dress’ and ‘My Princess Boy’ and other transgender curriculum are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.”
This is another example of a book being banned for inaccurate reasons. In Jacob’s New Dress Jacob is not depicted or labeled as transgender. Let me tell you what Jacob’s New Dress is about; Jacob is a young boy who enjoys to dress up in dresses. He likes the way they look and feel, and he likes to pretend to be a princess. Another student, Christopher, says that boys can’t wear dresses. When Jacob wears a towel as a dress to school, Christopher pulls it off of him and takes it. Jacob asks his mom to help him to sew a new, real, dress. As they make the dress Jacob’s mom says “there are all sorts of ways to be a boy.” Jacob’s dad says “well it’s not what I would wear but it looks good on you.” Jacob wearing a dress does not make Jacob a girl, or transgendered, just as much as wearing pants does not make girls boys. One of the themes of this book is that there are different ways to be a boy, and just because you’re a boy does not mean you have to like certain things, or dress in a certain way. It’s about accepting others for who they are and what they like. In my opinion, those are great messages, and North Carolina had it right before, when they used this book in their anti-bullying curriculum.