Have you read The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes? It’s a little gem of a book that packs a big message about having the courage to stand up for what’s right. My book club read it years ago, but it wasn’t until this week that I read it to my kids. We read the book, talked about it, and then started making 100 dresses of our own. “Started” being the operative word here; it’ll take a while to get to 100 dresses. But we’re off to a good start with 16!
If you’d like to give this project a try, the first thing to do is read the book. Then spend some time talking about it. Ask your kids if they’ve ever been made fun of or if they’ve made fun of someone else. Have they watched as someone got teased? Ask them why Peggy made fun of Wanda and why Wanda made up the story about the 100 dresses. Ask why Maddie didn’t defend Wanda. Ask what they think about the letter that Peggy and Maddie wrote to Wanda. What should the letter have said? Do they think Maddie will keep her promise never “to stand by and say nothing again?” Why, or why not? (Oh, gosh, the textbook editor in me is coming out…sorry!) One last thing: if your kids are old enough, you can point out that Estes wrote The Hundred Dresses in 1944 and discuss what influences the war and the treatment of the Jewish people might have had on the story.
Okay, so you’ve read the book and had a good discussion and now you’re ready to start making your 100 dresses. I am not a sketch artist at all, so I got out one of my old Princess Diana books and attempted to copy some of her dresses. But, really, if you can draw at all you’ll be fine. The nice thing about children is they’re easily impressed by adult drawing skills. I handed the sketches over to the kids as I went and they got busy with their watercolors. A nice surprise was that Will joined in for a bit.
The kids want to get to 100 dresses, so that’ll keep me (and them) busy. I think we’ll display the dresses in the playroom for now, and then maybe tuck them away in a binder after a while for posterity.