The Hundred Dresses (1945 Newbery Honor book)

Every child at one time or another has been teased or mocked by other children, particularly in public schools. Those of us who have witnessed it, suffered it, or may have even done it, will remember the experience as painful, humiliating, and regrettable. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is one of the best books I’ve ever read that deals with this damaging behavior.

Poor Wanda has no friends at school. She sits quietly in the back of the room, wearing the same blue dress every day. When another girl comes to school wearing a beautiful, new dress, Wanda proudly tells all the girls she really has a hundred dresses at home, lined up in her closet. Not a day goes by when the girls don’t tease her and ask her about those “supposed” dresses.

Wanda ends up moving away, while the other kids learn the surprising truth about the hundred dresses. This book is simply written, and truly unforgettable. It will put young readers in everyone’s shoes, from Wanda, to the girls who’ve done the teasing. This book is a good one to use to teach compassion and empathy to young children.

Here’s some lesson plan ideas for the book and a biography on Mrs. Estes.

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