In this episode we look at books for celebrating the 100th day of school and books that celebrate words.
Books Discussed in This Episode:
Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. This week, to start with, we’re going to be talking about the hundredth day of school, because, depending when you started school, sometime in February is usually when you hit your hundredth day. And I know that usually we celebrate the hundredth day when your kids are in kindergarten and first grade, but if you’re homeschooling all your kids this year, it would be fun to just make it a really special day for everyone and have a great time with it. I think it’s a lot of fun. So I have some great books to share with you.
First of all, about the hundredth day of school, the first one I’m going to share is called Miss Bindergarden Celebrates the Hundredth Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. I’m going to read a little bit of this story to you. “‘Tomorrow We celebrate,’ says Ms. Bindergarden, ‘the hundredth day of kindergarten. 100 days of friends, 100 days of fun, 100 days of darling, dazzling, winning work you’ve done. So remember that tomorrow, all of you must bring 100 of some wonderful 100-full things.’ That night Adam’s fort is finished. Brenda’s half asleep. Christopher’s 100 blocks tumble in a heap.” So this particular version of the 100th day of school story goes through the alphabet as you’re going through the book. What I love about it too, is Miss Bindergarden does all these really cool, special things preparing her classroom for the hundredth day to make a bunch of surprises for her students. So it really shows how hard a teacher works to make it special for her students. And all of the students in the story are different animals. So you also have about 26 animals in the story. There’s a lot of ways you could have fun when reading this book to practice different skills that your child has been learning in kindergarten. On the last page of this book, it shows what each of the students brought. Adam’s Fort had 100 Popsicle sticks, and this is also going through the alphabet because each child’s name begins with a different letter of the alphabet. But what I like about that too, is if your child is preparing for their hundredth day, this gives them 26 ideas of what to bring besides all the fun, crazy things that Miss Bindergarden does to get ready for the hundredth day of kindergarten because I know sometimes it’s hard to think what to do for the 100 items to share with the class. So this book gives you a lot of great ideas.
Another great book for the hundredth day is The Night Before the Hundredth Day of School by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Mindy Pierce. And this one’s roughly based on Clement C. Moore’s classic poem The Night before Christmas, but not tightly related to it. It does have a few little lines in there that remind you of that story. But it’s really cute because the main character is trying to decide what he’ll bring to the party for the hundredth day of school, and all his other friends have all decided, and he hasn’t decided yet. And so he’s trying to do this and trying to do that. He counts out his dinosaurs, and he doesn’t have enough. He counts out his coins, and he doesn’t have enough. He finally figures out what he can bring. And it’s a really cute story for the hundredth day.
If you like the Stinky Face series of books, those are really cute. I haven’t read this particular Stinky Face book, but there is It’s the Hundredth Day, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and illustrated by Cyd Moore. So this is also available.
And then one that I really like is called 100 Days of School: Math Is Fun written by Trudy Harris and illustrated by Beth Griffis Johnson. And this book is a math-focused book, and it teaches the kids how to count to a hundred by ones, tens, fives, twenty-fives — the different ways we can count to a hundred. So I really like this book. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s written in a really cute rhyme. Let me just read the beginning of this, because it is really, really cute. “If You go to school for 95 days and then go five more days, what do you get? Smarter and smarter and how cool 100 days of school. If 10 tired children all take off their shoes. What do you get? Lots of bare feet, and I suppose, 100 toes. If you find a tiny bug with 50 legs on one side and 50 legs on the other, what do you get? 100 legs and yes, indeed, a centipede.” So it goes through several different ways to count to a hundred.
And then the final one I want to talk about because there are many, many books about the hundredth day of school and they’re all based around kindergarten and first grade. But another one I really like is I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith and illustrated by P.D. Eastman. And so it’s a Dr. Seuss printed book. The little boy in the story teaches his dog 100 words. It shows how easily we can learn 100 words. This one I think would be cool to use in an ESL class, but also for the hundredth day of school.
And then the rest of today, what I want to talk about is actually books about words. There are some really cute books out that just play with words. And one of them I’ve mentioned before it’s called P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Halder and Chris Carpenter and illustrated by Maria Beddia. And this one is full of words that begin with a silent letter. They don’t begin with the sound that we think they should start with. So it’s the worst alphabet book ever because it does go through the alphabet and give you words that start with those letters. But, of course, those letters are silent. Well, there’s a second book in this series called No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read Aloud Book Ever. It’s a confusing collection of hilarious homonyms and soundalike sentences. So if you’re wanting to work with homonyms and homophones and all of that, this is a good book to read with your child. It’s also by Raj Halder and Chris Carpenter. And it’s illustrated by Bryce Gladfelter. This one is really hard to read out loud without having you reading it along with someone because it is all homonyms literally. You have the same pterodactyl who’s kind of the narrator for the story that was in the other alphabet book who says, “You can’t believe everything you hear. Did you know that a single word can have many different meanings, and sometimes words that sound alike can be spelled completely differently. In this book Ptolemy predicts you’ll find that two sentences may sound exactly the same, but they can mean hilariously different things.” One of them is, “We were all astonished by the foul feat.” Okay? So the first picture shows a sports arena, and there’s a bird doing the high jump. And everybody’s amazed at his feat, what he accomplishes. Then on the next page, we have a yak who has smelly feet and everybody’s astonished at how foul his feet smell. So it’s two completely different meanings with the same sounds. One says, “They mustered everything, but couldn’t catch up. We relished it.” So this is two teams running on a track and one of them wins and the other one tries, but couldn’t catch up. Then on the other picture, it shows people eating hot dogs and they’re putting mustard on everything. The ketchup is empty, so they couldn’t “ketchup,” but then some relished it, and they put some relish on theirs. So it’s totally silly. This is a book that has a lot of fun playing with words. Also, it will introduce your child to different homophones and homonyms.
Another book that’s kind of educational is called Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Lynn Rowe Read. I like this one because it’s so hard. And I know it’s not technically about words, it’s about punctuation, but what happens when you have just words of no punctuation, it’s hard to tell what someone is saying. I do like this one. “Day After day, the punctuation marks showed up in Mr. Wright’s classroom. Day after day, they did their jobs. They put up with being erased and replaced and corrected and ignored and moved around. Then on the hottest, stickiest day the class had ever seen, right in the middle of a lesson about commas, Mr. Wright mopped his forehead and said, ‘Let’s give punctuation a vacation.’ As the kids cheered and headed for the playground to cool off, the punctuation marks stared at one another in disbelief. ‘Is This the thanks we get?’ Asked a question mark. ‘Well,’ Huffed an exclamation point. ‘Now, Now,’ said a comma. ‘We Should take a vacation,’ said a period. ‘They’ll Soon learn how much they need us.’ ‘It’s 11:00 now,’ said a colon. ‘Let’s Leave at 11:02.’ ‘Great!’ said an exclamation point. ‘Don’t Leave us!’ yelled the apostrophes. Whoosh–punctuation rushed out the door. Whoosh–They rushed back in to grab the quotation marks who were too busy talking to pay attention. When Mr. Wright’s class returned from the playground, they couldn’t wait to find out what happened in chapter four of their book, Ace Cooper, Dog Detective. Mr. Wright opened his mouth to read aloud, but then he stopped and stared. ‘This Is weird the punctuation is missing oh where could it be yikes maybe punctuation took a vacation we are in big trouble now’ Mr. Wright was right. Nothing made sense without punctuation.” They get these postcards. “A Couple of days later, the school secretary delivered a small bundle of postcards to Mr. Wright’s class. They were postmarked, Take a Break Lake. ‘Do You miss us? How much? Why couldn’t we take a vacation sooner? Guess who.’ ‘We flop. We plop. We stop. We stay put in our lounge chairs. We are happy thinking our complete thoughts. Thankfully yours, sentence stoppers.’ So then each postcard shows how a different punctuation mark is used, which is really clever and is a good review for talking through punctuation with your child, and the kids guess who wrote the postcards. They borrow some punctuation from the teacher next door, Mr. Rango, and they write a letter back to punctuation, but they kind of get everything mixed up in their punctuation. And so that’s really funny to talk about how the letters should be punctuated, and it’s not punctuated correctly. Thankfully the punctuation comes back to Mr. Wright’s classroom so that everything can make sense again. And then in the very back of the book, it actually has punctuation rules written in a way that is easy to understand and very good for younger children.
Another fun book is called Bookspeak. It’s poems about books by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. And this is exactly what it says it is. It’s a book of poetry about books. And so it starts out with, “Calling all readers. I’ll tell you a story. I’ll spin you a rhyme. I’ll spin some ideas, and we’ll travel through time. Put down the controller. Switch off the TV. Abandon the mouse, and just hang out with me. I promise adventure. Come on, take a look. On a day like today. There’s no friend like a book.” It’s a whole book of poems about books. It’s kind of fun. I’ll read another one. It’s called. “I’ve Got This Covered.” I’m the first thing you see when you walk by a book. My picture is shouting, ‘Please stop, take a look.’ I’ve got dazzling colors. All you could want. I wish I had glitter and sparkles to flaunt. I only have seconds to show that you need. To pick up this book, get comfy, and read.” And it deals with the different aspects of parts of a book: the conflict, the voice, the characters. And so each poem deals with a different aspect of that. It would be really fun to have each poem when you’re introducing a new concept in literature or in writing. It’s a really clever book.
And then there’s a really nice book. This is for a little bit older child; I would say third grade or higher. It’s called I Hate English by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. And this book is about a little girl who moves to the United States and she doesn’t want to speak English. And her teacher spends time with her and really comforts her. She actually realizes she’s picked up more English than she originally thought. And she begins to like her new country. I think it’s an excellent book for an ESL student to kind of help them know they’re not alone in their frustration where they just want to speak their own native language, and they’re tired of having to think and do everything in English. If you’ve ever had to learn another language and you’ve been immersed in that culture, you do learn the language more quickly. I used to say my brain hurts because it’s such hard work to think in another language all day long. And to make that adjustment. Now, there is a point at which it becomes easier, at least for children. I noticed my one daughter, she and her friend were both totally bilingual. And whenever they would play together, they would be speaking in English together. And then a few minutes later, they’d both slip into Chinese together, and they just went back and forth and were not even aware that they were shifting between the two languages. That was always interesting. And when you get to that point, then it’s fun because you can translate, and you can speak in both languages, and you’re just comfortable in both languages. But at first it’s very uncomfortable and exhausting to try to keep up with both languages and both cultures–always feeling like you’re kind of not comfortable in your own skin because you’re afraid you’re going to do something wrong culturally or socially and embarrass yourself or make someone angry because you did something inappropriate. And I remember the day I was walking down the sidewalk in Taiwan and all of a sudden I realized I felt comfortable. I didn’t feel like I was going to do something wrong every time I turned the corner. I just felt at home for the first time; it’s a wonderful feeling. I never got that way with the language, unfortunately. I’m comfortable being around people speaking in Chinese; I just can’t always participate. But anyway, this is a very nice book. Let me just read a little bit for you. “‘I Hate English,’ Mei Mei said in her head–in Chinese. Mei Mei was smart in school–in her school in Hong Kong–in Chinese. But her family moved to New York. She didn’t know why. She didn’t want to move. And she said all that–in Chinese. Chinatown in New York was okay. People looked like people she knew. People talked like people she knew–in Chinese. In New York in school, everything happened in English. Such a lonely language. Each letter stands alone and makes its own noise. Not like Chinese. Sometimes English letters fight each other. ‘You Will go on a class trip,’ the teacher said in English. T R I P thought Mei Mei. The letters T and R bang against each other. And each keeps its own sound. Not like Chinese. Mei Mei loved Chinese, especially writing fast strokes, short strokes, long strokes–the brush, the pen, the pencil all seemed to fly in her hand. But that was Chinese. Mei Mei wouldn’t speak in school. Most of the time she understood what her teacher said, but everything was in English and Mei Mei wouldn’t speak English.” And so it goes on and her tutor reaches out to her and encourages her, and, little by little, she grows to love her new country and to enjoy speaking English. It ends with, “‘Thank you,’ said Nancy, as she gave me a hug. ‘For What?’ asked Mei Mei still laughing. ‘For Giving me,’ said Nancy, ‘a present of English.’ ‘You are welcome,’ said Mei Mei. And to this day Mei Mei talks in Chinese and English whenever she wants.”
One last book I want to share with you today is Words to Love By written by Rick Warren and illustrated by Ag Jatkowska. This is really a wonderful book. And it talks about the power of our words to encourage, to build up or to tear down. Of all the things we teach our kids about words, this is probably the most important thing. So let me read a little bit of this story to you. “Did You know you have the power to change someone’s life with your words?” And it shows a little boy saying to a man, I’m assuming his grandpa, but it could just be a man at the park, “I love you.” “Words may be small, but they can do big things.” And it shows some children on top of a mountain of words. And it has words like “amazing creative, friendly, brave, genuine, honest, powerful, beautiful, wise, generous.” And it has all these words. “You Make me smile.” “Words can encourage.” “I believe in you. You’re going to be great. You’re really good at that.” “They can bring out the best in people.” “I knew you could do it! Well done. You did it! This is beautiful.” “Words can spread love and kindness.” “Do you need help? Let me help you. Please share. Thank you.” “And let others know they’re not alone.” “Do you want to play with us?” “Words can show respect.” “After you. Ma’am. How thoughtful. Would you like to go first? Thank you.” I love that. It’s not just saying this is how to have good manners, and this is what you should say, but it’s showing that you can affect someone’s life with your words–you can be an encourager. You can show a heart of gratitude by the words you use.
And I said, that was the last book I was going to share with you, but I really wanted to share another book. And I shared this one quite a while back, but especially in the days in which we’re living right now, I think it’s a very powerful book to share with our children. The one I have is in Spanish and English, and it’s called The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra, Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. “Once There was a village where the streets rang with song from morning till night. Dogs bayed. Mothers crooned. Engines hummed. Fountains warbled. And everybody sang in the shower. Everyone and everything had a song to sing. This made the village of LaPaz, a very noisy place. It was hard to hear. It was hard to sleep. It was hard to think. And no one knew what to do. So they fired the mayor. Now they were a very noisy village without a mayor. So they held an election. Only Don Pepe promised peace and quiet. He won by a landslide. The next day, a very polite law appeared in the village square, ‘No loud singing in public, por favor.’ Things were getting better already, but more laws soon followed. ‘No Loud singing at home,’ ‘No loud singing,’ ‘No singing.’ ‘Basta! Quiet already.’ Until finally the noisy village of La Paz was silent as a tomb. Even the teakettles were afraid to whistle. Some people left the village, singing loudly. Others stayed behind and learned to hum. The rest were just grateful to have a good night’s sleep for crying out loud.” And then it goes on and there’s a rooster. And it says, “Seven, very quiet years passed. Then one evening a saucy gallito and his family wandered into the village and roosted in a fragrant mango tree. When the little rooster woke the next morning, he did what roosters were born to do. He’s saying. “Kee-kee-ree-kee!” As his rotten luck would have it, the mango tree grew beneath the cranky mayor’s window. Oh.” And so he gets in trouble for crowing, but it doesn’t matter. He still crows. He even gets arrested, and he still crows. Later in the book, the mayor does everything he can to try to kill the song that the rooster sings–to try to stop him from singing. And each day the rooster crows. The mayor finally thinks he’s silenced him, but no, the song is louder and noisier than ever. And it will never die as long as there is someone to sing it. And there was. And so all the people start singing the same thing and the mayor leaves town. But I think it’s a very powerful book for today in our culture when we’re discussing freedom of speech and how important that freedom is. Are we still going to sing our song? Are we still gonna sing even in the midst of people trying to silence us? And that takes courage and determination.
I want to end today by reading a devotional. This one is from Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment. This is the December 31st entry in this devotional book. And it’s called “Wishful Words.” The scripture is John 14:27. “I Leave you peace. My peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled. Don’t be afraid. Jesus has a message just for you. It is whispered in every word in the new Testament. If only you knew that I came to help and not judge. If only you knew that tomorrow will be better than today. If only you knew the gift that I bring you–eternal life. If only you knew I want you safely home with me. If only you knew. What wishful, wistful words to come from the lips of God. How kind that he would let us hear them. How important it is that we stop to hear them. If only we knew to trust God. Trust that he is in our corner. Trust that God wants what is best for us. If only we could learn to trust him. Won’t you trust him?” And then Growing in Grace: “The things of this world end. Holidays end. Years end. Even lives end. But God never ends. His love, his faithfulness, his promises, his mercy, grace, and forgiveness never end. Believe him and his word. Make that your number one goal this coming year–to trust God completely.”
Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions. I hope these books will spark meaningful conversations with the children in your life. Please check out my website at TerrieHellardBrown.com. Remember when you sign up for my mailing list, you receive several freebies, and you get a couple emails each week. My podcast posts on Tuesday mornings and my blog usually posts on Thursdays. I hope that you’ll have fun celebrating your 100th day of school and that you will help your children learn to love words and love books.
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.
Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.
Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.
For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com
Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.
Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.
Disclaimer: Although Terrie majored in psychology and sociology for her bachelor’s degree and has taught AP Psychology, she is NOT a licensed therapist. She sometimes mentions items in her blog and podcast that could be considered comments on psychology, but these comments are based on ministry experience and ministering to people through the missions and church work she’s done for the past 36 years. If you have questions about psychological disorders or counseling needs, please consider finding a reputable, licensed counselor in your area. Terrie’s comments should be seen as anecdotal and ministry-experience-related or scripture-based. Thank you!