As a child, I always tried to find a way to be in the spotlight. In the 1996 book “Frindle” by Andrew Clements, Nicholas (Nick) Allen, tries to do just that. He is a trend setter. In third grade, Nick convinced all of his classmates to help him turn his classroom into a beach in February, complete with paper palm trees, a 90 degree thermostat and, of course, buckets and buckets of white sand. But now Nick is in the fifth grade, and he has a new language arts teacher, Mrs. Granger. One bad look from her could “make you feel like a speck of dust.”
Every fifth grader has little tricks to keep the teachers from giving out homework assignments, and Nick is no different! His master plan on the first day, during the last period, in the last few minutes of class with Mrs. Granger is to ask one seemingly simple question that will change the course of his life forever. On that fateful day, Nick is given the assignment that would create a huge fuss, worldwide. The assignment gives Nick the brilliant idea to change the name of a pen, to a “frindle.”
When I was a child, I had to read this book during a reading circle. I did not know at the time the impact this book would have on me. I have always been one to look for ways to stand out. I would purposely do strange things just because it was different (I still do). Nick started by getting a few of his best friends to ask the school store for a “frindle.” Before he knew it, the entire fifth grade was referring to their pen as a frindle. After reading this book in grade school, I was inspired to start making up words for different things, and using them. My words have not caught on nearly as quickly as it did for Nick, but even now, seven or eight years later, I have friends who use the words.
“Frindle” is an inspiration to those kids who like to stand out, and is an encouragement to those who try to stay “in.” It harnesses the perfect balance of quietly teaching kids about the origins of words and how one person can affect many.
*When you read this book with your child, talk about the ways words can help the world and how they can hurt the world. Make up a new word with your child. Start to use it around the house. Soon, it will become second nature, and you will use the word in front of others. You and your child can be a local trend setter, too!*