Towards the end of library time, Mrs. Reeves asks the class if anyone needs to go to the bathroom before they head back to class. Jacob and Sophie raise their hands. The next page shows Jacob, wearing a dress, standing in front of a door with a pictograph of a person wearing pants. Sophie, wearing pants, is standing in front of a pictograph of a person wearing a dress.
They stopped outside of the bathroom doors.
“Do you think it’s okay?” asked Sophie.
“I don’t know” said Jacob.
Dear readers, it was not okay. Jacob saw two boys washing their hands and knew from their looks that he would not be welcome. Sophie was chased out of the bathroom, told to use the boy’s bathroom.
On returning to the library, Sophie still has to pee and Jacob explains what happened. Mrs. Reeves accompanies them to the bathrooms and then stands watch while they do the things all human bodies demand be done. Rather than becoming an enforcer of the binary, Mrs. Reeves uses the experience as a teaching moment for all the children about being respectful of people no matter how they present.
Jacob’s Room to Choose is a lovely, positive story with engaging and friendly illustrations. The image of Jacob and Sophie standing in front of the gender specific bathroom doors has stayed with me. The pose of the gender-nonconforming children matches the pose of the binary gender pictographs, but they are specifically excluded. Jacob, presenting feminine, and Sophie, presenting masculine, look up, up, up at the symbols that tell them they don’t belong and that not belonging is reinforced by the children inside the bathroom.
Mrs. Reeves teaches a good lesson – bee kind, bee respectful, and bathrooms are for every bunny.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.