10,000 Dresses


  • Students will read, reflect, and write about a story to examine self-expression.


Suggested Grade Level: K-2


Length of Time: 40 minutes


Academic Standards

  • CCSS RL 1.1
    • Reading: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • CCSS SL 1.4
    • Speaking and Listening: Describe familiar people, places, things and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
  • CCSS W 2.8
    • Writing: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.



  • Dress cutouts, pencils, crayons or colored pencils, chart paper


Required Books:

  • “10,000 Dresses,” Marcus Ewert



  • Before reading the story, ask students to think about an activity that makes them happy. Students should consider activities they enjoy partaking in, such as after school activities, sports, arts and crafts, games on the playground, etc. After providing adequate time to consider the question, invite students to share their thoughts. At the front of the classroom, list their answers. Leave room for a title.
  • Point out the diverse interests of the classroom with questions such as, “Is what makes one person happy sometimes different from what makes another person happy?” Discuss how this diversity can be positive.
  • WriteExpress Yourself” as the title of your classroom’s list. Ask if students know what the phrase “Express Yourself” means. Explain that one way people “express” their true selves is by doing activities that make them happy.
  • Read how Bailey expresses herself in “10,000 Dresses.”
    • Discussion questions:
      • How does Bailey want to express herself? (ie. What makes Bailey happy?)
      • What does Bailey’s family say when she tells them about her dreams?
      • Bailey feels that wearing a dress allows her to express her true self. How is what Bailey feels different from how her family sees her?
        • This question also provides the educator with an opportunity to discuss that Bailey’s preferred pronouns (she/her/hers) reflect how she feels on the inside, in contrast to how her family sees her (as a boy).
      • How would you feel if someone teased you for how you express yourself?
  • At the end of the book, what does Laurel ask Bailey to help her with? How do you think this makes Bailey feel? Why?
  • If you saw a student being teased for their self-expression (how they dressed or acted), what could you do?
  • “These dresses don’t show us the Great Wall of China, or the Pyramids,” said Laurel. “No,” said Bailey, “but they do show ourselves.” Have children create a dress that displays an activity that makes them happy or allows for self-expression. If age appropriate, have students write 2-3 sentences on the back of the dress describing what activity makes them happy and how they would react if they saw someone being teased for their self-expression.

Written by Sarah Thomsen, Elementary Educator

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.Common Core State Standards Initiative, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State SchoolOfficers. 2012. http://www.corestandards.org/


Our Family Coalition advances equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) families with children through support, education, and advocacy.

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