How to Eat Fried Worms
by Thomas Rockwell
Because of a bet, Billy is in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. The worms are supplied by his opponent, whose motto is "The bigger and juicier, the better!" At first Billy's problem is whether or not he can swallow the worm placed before him, even with a choice of condiments from peanut butter to horseradish. But later it looks as if Billy will win, and the challenge becomes getting to the worm to eat it. Billy's family, after checking with the doctor, takes everything in stride. They even help Billy through his gastronomic ordeal, which twists and turns with each new day, leaving the outcome of the bet continually in doubt.
A Note from the First Lady:
Dear Read20 Book Club families,
What a funny and intriguing story we find in How to Eat Fried Worms by author Thomas Rockwell. A story of friendship, integrity, and perseverance, this chapter book will guide you through a few days in the lives of some very daring boys.
You may think it silly, but there is much to learn and engage with in this creepy, crawly tale. As you read about the bet between Billy and his buddies and all of the challenges it brings, put yourself in the shoes of each of these characters and think carefully about what you would do in each of their situations. How might you make decisions differently? How can you learn to smile in the face of a challenge like eating fifteen worms in fifteen days? I hope you and your family enjoy this laugh-out-loud narrative as much as I did!
Crissy Haslam - First Lady of Tennessee
Fun Family Activities
Science Lesson: Visit your local library to learn about the earthworm! Journal about what you find out. What is an earthworm’s habitat? What does an earthworm eat? Does an earthworm have eyes? Ears? What other animals (besides betting boys like Billy!) eat worms? Why do you think an earthworm might be called “a gardener’s best friend”?
Vocabulary: How to Eat Fried Worms is filled with unique vocabulary! Words like nonchalant, cistern, antidote, coax, and fink are all dispersed throughout the story. Take a moment to find some words you don’t know and look them up in the dictionary. Find synonyms and antonyms for these new words. Practice using these new words in a sentence to your family members or a friend.
Themes in the Text: Billy ends up in this precarious situation because of a dare from his friends. Do you think Billy really wanted to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days? How do you think peer pressure may have contributed to Billy’s agreement to make the bet? Can you think of a time when you may have been influenced by peer pressure? How did it make you feel? How might you respond differently next time you are faced with pressure from others?