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The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, a Newbury Honor Book, was written almost seventy years ago and yet remains a classic. The listed reading level is 5.4 but the story itself is appropriate to read to younger children, second grade and higher. If you notice students that are a victim of teasing or bullying or if you see students that tend to tease others, this is a book you will want to read in your class. It will provide a springboard for discussions, which will help in teaching tolerance of those who are different. The following comprehension questions for each chapter of the book, will help assess each child’s understanding of what has been read.
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Wanda Petronski didn’t have any friends. The children thought her last name was funny. She wore the same blue dress every day to school. It was clean but was wrinkled and faded. A girl named Peggy started a game of teasing Wanda and the other girls joined in. “How many dresses did you say that you have?” Peggy would ask. Then Wanda would answer, “A hundred, all lined up in my closet.” The girls would break into shrieks of laughter. One day Wanda did not return to school. Peggy and her best friend, Maddie, worried that they may have caused her departure.
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a. Which of the following words describe Wanda Petronski:
quiet—always smiling—smart—has muddy shoes
(quiet, muddy shoes)
b. Which of these words describe Peggy:
lonely—most popular—straight blonde hair—auburn hair—smart—silly
(most popular, auburn hair, smart)
c. Why were Peggy and Maddie late to school?
(They were waiting for Wanda because they liked to tease her.)
2. “The Dresses Game”
a. What are some of the reasons why the girls in the class began to tease Wanda?
(She didn’t have any friends. She wore the same blue dress every day. She had a funny last name. She lived in Boggins Heights.)
b. How did the girls tease Wanda?
(They would say sweetly, “Wanda, how many dresses do you have?” She would answer, “A hundred” and it would continue)
c. How did Maddie feel about teasing Wanda?
(It was bothering her and she was feeling guilty.)
3. “A Bright Blue Day”
In this chapter, Maddie was remembering how the teasing started. What were all the girls talking about on the bright blue day?
(They were talking about dresses.)
4. “The Contest”
a. Maddie wanted to tell Peggy that she didn’t want to tease Wanda about her dresses anymore. What did she imagine would happen to her if she told Peggy how she felt?
(Maddie thought that Peggy would begin to tease her instead.)
b. Describe the contest.
(It was a drawing and coloring contest. Girls drew dresses and boys drew motorboats.)
5. “The Hundred Dresses”
a. Who won the contest and how did the class react to the news?
(Wanda won. She was an amazing artist. The class cheered even though Wanda wasn’t there.)
b. Describe the letter that the teacher read to the class.
(It was from Wanda’s father and he said they were moving to the big city where no one would call them names.)
6. “Up On Boggins Heights”
a. After their teacher read the letter from Wand’s father, what did Maddie and Peggy decide to do? (The girls walked to Wanda’s house to try to find her.)
b. That night, what conclusion did Maddie make when she couldn’t sleep?
(She decided that she would never stand by and say nothing again if someone was getting picked on.)
7. “The Letter to Room 13”
a. When they discovered that Wanda had already moved, what did Peggy and Maddie decide to do?
(They wrote a letter to Wanda.)
b. How did the girls know that Wanda got their letter?
(She wrote a letter back to the whole class and gave a picture to Peggy and Maddie.)
c. What did the girls discover about the pictures?
(The faces on the pictures were of them.)
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Hopefully these chapter questions on The Hundred Dresses have been helpful for you to assess students' comprehension and to open a dialogue about teasing and bullying.