The Hundred Dresses

The Hundred Dresses
Author: Eleanor Estes
Grade Level Equivalent:  5.0
Lexile Level: 890L
Guided Reading Level: T

My Recommended Age: Read A-Loud 6 and Up; Independent Read 10 and Up

The other night my daughters asked if I would read them a story. I didn't know if I could handle another Clifford, so I decided it was time to introduce them to one of my favorite books. My three girls and I started reading it, and not 5 minutes later my 12 year old son parked himself on the floor so he could listen too. I classify this as a perfect read-a-loud chapter book. It is only 80 pages and the illustrations are captivating.

Written in 1944, The Hundred Dresses is as appropriate now as it was then. Quiet shy Wanda Petronski claims to have 100 dresses of all kinds lining her closet. Yet, why does someone who has so many dresses wear the same faded old blue one. Wanda's bold statement starts a "game" in which Peggy, teases her about all her beautiful dresses. Though Maddie, Peggy's best friend, feels uncomfortable with the way Wanda is being treated, she doesn't have the courage to do anything about it.

At first read, this seems like a story about Wanda. However, this isn't the story of Wanda Petronski. It's the story of Maddie, an ordinary person who quietly assents to evil and then must live with her decision...

As I get older, I tend to love this book more and more. Full of lessons that are suitable at any age, The Hundred Dresses teaches about compassion, prejudice, tolerance, school life and understanding. Yet the messages aren't heavy-handed. The reading is quick and the story is simple. It is appropriate for kids of any age at any point in time.

Happy Reading

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