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Understood Betsy Read Aloud

Reading Aloud Understood Betsy

I have been reading aloud *Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield to our 2nd -3rd grade literature class at homeschool co-op each week. It is a charming little story published in 1917 about an orphan girl who, through a series of events she at first considers to be horrible, ends up living with "those awful Putney cousins."

She begins to learn something brand new about herself while learning that the Putneys might not be so awful after all.

"It is possible that what stirred inside her head at that moment was her brain, waking up. She was nine years old, and she was in the third-A grade at school, but that was the first time she had ever had a thought of her very own. At home, Aunt Frances had always known exactly what she was doing, and had helped her over the hard places before she even knew they were there; and at school her teachers had been carefully trained to think faster than the scholars. Somebody had always been explaining things to Elizabeth Ann so carefully that she had never found out a single thing for herself before. This was a very small discovery, but it was her own. Elizabeth Ann was as excited about it as a mother bird over the first egg that hatches."

 The 2nd-3rd graders are loving this story! Each 45 minute class period, while I read, I give them a coloring sheet that provides a clue about what the new chapter holds. One week the coloring sheet has kittens to color, and they listen while Betsy gets a new kitten from the Putneys. The next class, there is a picture of a school building to color while I read about Betsy going to a new school.
The class has an equal mix of about 25 boys and girls, and they all listen attentively and can't wait to find out how the coloring page relates to the story each time. I stop periodically to ask questions about what I have read. "What grade did Betsy's teacher say she would be in for reading?" "Why do you think Betsy was surprised about that?" "How did Betsy feel about her new kitten?" "How can you tell?"
If you are looking for a new read aloud for your elementary students, I highly recommend *Understood Betsy!
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