Jacob—star of one of the most banned books of the decade according to the American Library Association—is back in his third book and ready to put on a school play! While learning their lines and making their costumes, Jacob’s class finds itself unexpectedly struggling with identity, and what it means to be “he”, “she”, or “they”. Jacob’s School Play is an engaging way to introduce young readers to non-binary people and the pronoun options available to us all. Learning that individuals are more nuanced than how others see them is a developmentally important milestone and helps foster respect of one’s self and one’s peers. Read an interview with Jacob about his play and learning about pronouns. Hear Jacob's School Play read aloud.Read More
About Sarah and Ian HoffmanSarah and Ian Hoffman live in the San Francisco Bay Area with their two children. Visit their website for more about their books and parenting experiences.
Recently, Magination Press Family had the opportunity to interview Jacob, the subject of Jacob’s School Play: Starring He, She, and They, a picture book by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. In his third book, Jacob, a gender nonconforming kindergartner, prepares for a school play. A classmate, Ari, uses “they/them” pronouns, and Jacob finds it confusing. Jacob’s teacher helps him understand what it means to identify as nonbinary and why Ari uses “they.” In the interview, Jacob shares his feelings and experiences. MP: I heard your school did a play. What was that like? Did you have fun? Jacob: It was really fun. I like playing make-believe. The play was like the whole class playing make-believe together. MP: What did you and Sophie do to help with the play? What roles did you have? Jacob: Sophie and I were both farmers. I got to wear my overalls dress, which is good for hard work and getting dirty. MP: Can you tell us about your classmate, Ari? What role did Ari have? Jacob: Ari was the water. They played the rain, the pond, and the clouds. Did you know that all of those things are made of water? It’s true! MP: How did Ms. Reeves help you understand Ari better? Jacob: She told me that from the outside, we can’t tell who anybody is on the inside. I didn’t know that. At first I didn’t understand, but now it makes sense. And Ms. Reeves taught me about pronouns. MP: Tell me about which pronouns Ari uses. You use “he” and Sophies uses “she,” right? Jacob: I’m a “he,” and Sophie is a “she.” Ms. Reeves taught me to say “they” and “them” when I talk about Ari. Like, “Ari is using the orange crayon to draw a monster. Give them the green crayon, so they can draw a dinosaur, too!” MP: How did the play help you understand Ari better? Jacob: Everybody was dressed in costumes, but you could still tell who everybody was. Like, Emily was a cow, but you could still tell that cow was Emily. An Emily-cow. Ari was the water, so they were three different things. But the three things were all the same thing, and they were all Ari. The way the cloud floated across the stage, I could see it was Ari. Ari understood how to be all the things, and they didn’t have to be just one thing or the other. I realized that’s just like the way Ari is all the time. MP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about pronouns, Ari, or your play? Jacob: On a farm, you need all of the things, like dirt, and sun, and water, and plants, and animals. And all those things help each other. That’s how a farm works. The kids in my class are the same. We need all the different people. And we all need to help each other. That’s how we can be happy, everyone just being themselves, whoeverRead More
Recently, Magination Press Family had the opportunity to interview Jacob, the subject of Jacob’s Room to Choose, a picture book by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. Jacob and his friend, Sophie, are gender nonconforming kindergartners. In this case, that means they both wear clothes usually associated with the opposite gender. In the story, Jacob and Sophie get chased out of the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, respectively, because other kids don’t think they belong based on their appearance. Jacob’s teacher, Jacob, and his classmates help teach other kids in the school that bathrooms are for everyone, and everyone should get to choose which bathroom they’d like to use. In the interview, Jacob shares his feelings, experiences, and favorite things. MP: In Jacob's Room to Choose, we learn about how other kids reacted to you in the bathroom at school. How did their reactions make you feel? Jacob: Bad. MP: Can you tell me more? Jacob: Sometimes I was mad. Sometimes I was scared. I just wanted to use the bathroom and be left alone. MP: Did it help knowing Sophie was having the same problems? Jacob: It was better not being the only one. But Sophie felt bad, too. MP: Did the lesson Ms. Reeves taught your class help? Jacob: The kids in our class knew us, so they didn’t bother us so much. It was mostly the big kids. But having everyone help teach the big kids was good. Everybody in school learned to leave other people alone in the bathroom. That made things better. MP: How do you manage other public bathrooms? Jacob: My parents go in with me. Or they send me with a group of friends, so I'm safe. MP: How do you feel when people think you're a girl? Jacob: I don’t mind. Usually I don’t correct them, because it takes too long. But if I’m going to know them, I tell them I’m a boy. Otherwise they get embarrassed. Like my art teacher! She thought I was a girl all year. When she found out I was a boy, she said, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She was really upset, but I wasn’t. What’s wrong with being a girl? MP: What would you like other kids to know about you? Jacob: I like the things I like, just like everybody else likes the things they like. I don’t really like it when you make a big deal about the way I look. MP: Thank you for sharing your story with us in Jacob's New Dress and Jacob's Room to Choose. Do you have another book in mind? Jacob: Sarah and Ian asked me what I want people to know. There’s lots of things, so I’m helping them with another book. MP: Do you have a favorite book? Jacob: My big book of Norse myths. MP: What do you like to do at recess? Jacob: I like make-believe best. And tree climbing. MP: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Jacob: Coconut. MP: Coconut. Seriously? Jacob:Read More