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Understood Betsy {Free eBook & Go-Alongs}

Understood Betsy {Free eBook & Go-Alongs}

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher is a delight to read for the young and the old alike!

Since her parents died, Betsy has led a rather sheltered life in the city. She’s always been rather nervous, and rather sickly. At least her rather overprotective Aunt Frances understands her. But when circumstances change, Betsy must go to live with the dreaded Putney cousins. They live on a farm, of all places. Betsy’s world is about to change!

Understood Betsy is the story of a little girl’s road to enjoying the freedom that taking responsibility brings. While telling of Betsy’s transformation, the narrator involves the reader, speaking to us as those watching from the outside. In particular, the author frequently speaks to the adults in the room — a feature that always brings parents along when reading a children’s book. But don’t worry, the children will be delightedly absorbed in Betsy’s adventures.

“What’s the matter?” asked the teacher, seeing her bewildered face.

“Why—why,” said Elizabeth Ann, “I don’t know what I am at all. If I’m second-grade arithmetic and seventh-grade reading and third-grade spelling, what grade am I?”

The teacher laughed at the turn of her phrase. “you aren’t any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You’re just yourself, aren’t you? What difference does it make what grade you’re in! And what’s the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don’t know your multiplication table?”

This book also has an interesting appeal when it comes to education. Betsy is astonished that at her small country school she can be in seventh grade in reading, second grade in math, and generally third grade in everything else — something rather common in the world of tutors and home educators!

Finally, the original illustrations by Ada C. Williamson are absolutely wonderful, and not to be missed.

Free eBook
  • The characters in the story are very well-developed. Choose one to write a character sketch about.
  • Compare and contrast life at Aunt Harriet’s house to life on the Putney farm.
  • Narrate and explain some of the chores on the farm: making applesauce, making butter, making maple syrup.
  • Read “The stag at eve” from The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.
  • Why do you suppose Aunt Ann was quiet when the sewing club was discussing how much ‘Lias would never forget them for the good they were doing him? How did she end up showing them the error in their thinking? Copy and memorize Matthew 6:1-4.
  • Explain (narrate) how Betsy and Molly made it home from the fair.
  • Compare and contrast Betsy at the beginning of the story to Betsy at the end of the story.

Additional Resources
Understood Betsy

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Unabridged illustrated version from Dover Publishing for those interested.

14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Character Sketch
Helps for writing a character sketch of one of the characters in the book.

Activity: Compare & Contrast
Tools for helping with the suggestion above.

Explore the Farm
Suggestions, activities, books, units, lesson plans, and notebooking helps for exploring a farm.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
Paper for copying the verse mentioned above.

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