Understood Betsy Young Ladies Literary Tea

In January, we drank cocoa instead of tea at our Young Ladies Literary Tea. If you have ever read Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy you will know how important hot cocoa and cookies are. Those awful Putney cousins may make Betsy do farm chores, but they also show their love in cookies and cocoa. On January 12th, my girls and I sipped Mystic Monk Candy Cane Hot Cocoa and ate Christmas cookies while we talked about Elizabeth Ann and how she came to be understood and Betsy.


This book was chosen with our youngest readers in mind. Usually our teas are geared more towards the older girls, but I try to have at least one book per semester that is perfect for out little ladies. I am particularly proud of our bigger girls when they attend these clubs and make the little ladies feel included, special, and valued.

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We have reviewed Understood Betsy here. I especially recommend the Living Books Press reprint of this classic.


Our discussion included the following:

  • Why do you think the book is called Understood Betsy?
  • Compare Aunt Frances from the beginning of the book to the end? Has she changed or has only Betsy changed?
  • Thinking about the sewing circle, what kind of pride is it right for the girls to have?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • What does it mean when it says, “A dim notion was growing in her mind that the fact that she had never done a thing was no proof that she couldn’t”?
  • How does the kitten change throughout the book? How is that like Betsy?
  • When Molly comes crying, Betsy immediately goes to Cousin Ann. Why?
  • Which character are you most like?
  • What would you have done if you were in Betsy’s situation at the fair?
  • Have you ever felt “all mixed up” and “not know who (you are)” like Betsy when she is one grade in math and another in reading?