Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “"B" Is for Betsy” as Want to Read:
"B" Is for Betsy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

"B" Is for Betsy (Betsy #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,200 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Betsy experiences an interesting first year in school and looks forward to summer vacation at her grandfather's farm.
Hardcover, 159 pages
Published 1939 by Harcourt, Brace
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about "B" Is for Betsy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about "B" Is for Betsy

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the cover, I was expecting a modern story, but inside was a sweet old-fashioned story from when childhood was still innocent. I wish the cover illustrations were less modern looking and more closely matched the illustrations in the story, but otherwise a charming read.
Oct 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: girl-books
This is an adorable little book about a girl named Betsy and her experience beginning first grade. This book is a level 4.3 on the AR reading scale. It's surprising that a book about a little girl beginning first grade has a fourth grade reading level. I think my daughter would like it, but I am not too keen on the idea of her reading it for a few reasons. This book is set in a different era when kids could walk to school alone, ask strangers for help,accept rides in cars from other adults witho ...more
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very quick read. Written in 1939 it has a nice old fashioned feeling to it. It reminded me of my growing up in the late 50s. I remember reading it as a child, but don't really remember my reactions to it. I would have read it in my first years at school. I think I would have liked the small town feel and the fact that Betsy was always looked after. Fun things happen, but nothing too scary or dangerous. Sweet.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of my childhood favorites. I've read it off and on over the years during my career as a children's librarian, and I'm looking forward to reading it once again for my Vintage Book Circle discussion group's June meeting..
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
B IS FOR BETSY is the first in a series of children's "chapter books" with stories of Betsy's adventures with attending school. First published in 1939, it is more about the times of my mother as opposed to my granddaughter. But actually, it seems to be a potentially educational and fun experience for use with my granddaughter as an example of how school used to be for her elderly relatives.

Betsy first fears the start of first grade, but soon enjoys all the many experiences and friends that star
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Natalie by: NEH classic books list
Another delightful children's book. Written in 1939, it captures the essence of the times, through a first-grader's perspective. Fears of the first day of school, puppies, best friends, getting lost, and hints of the troubled times during Depression years. Sensitively told, definitely dated, and heartwarming espisodes.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely adorable. Written in 1939 it is a classic little girl book - and for big girls, too!
I enjoyed reading "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. It's one I've read before, though I don't remember reading the sequels, or all the sequels in this children's series. (Other books include Betsy and Billy, Back to School With Betsy, and Betsy and the Boys). In the first book, readers meet a young girl, Betsy, who is nervous about starting school. Though her anxiety is relieved after a successful day or two at school. The focus throughout the book is on Betsy's life at school and home. Each ...more
Amy Rae
There are a lot of classic books about Betsies, aren't there? Betsy-Tacy, Understood Betsy, "B" is for Betsy, on and on. I can't blame writers of bygone times--it's an absolutely adorable name, and I love it. But I'm afraid this particular entry in the Betsies Of Children's Literature annals isn't particularly special.

It's not bad, but unless you already like everyday-adventure stories about girls named Betsy living in America circa Somewhere In The Early 20th Century, you can probably skip it.
The second chapter book I read aloud with my daughter was "B" Is for Betsy.

I read so many of Carolyn Haywood's Betsy stories when I was a child, and was very excited to read them to my daughter. She loved this book. When we'd finish one chapter, she would want to peek ahead and learn what the title would be to the next chapter. I also enjoyed it for the nostalgia.

In this first book of the series, Betsy goes off to first grade. The novel follows her through the course of the school year. There
Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-read-alouds
Gosh, I loved these books as a kid. I had an imaginary Betsy friend. I was still reading the Betsy books into middle school where they were way below my reading level and completely uncool. However, reading the first in the Betsy series now years later to my daughter, I thought they were just okay. I didn't feel the excitement I knew I once had about Betsy.

My first-grader, on the other hand loved it! It's the first successful chapter book we've read where she was demanding just one more chapter
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The original "Betsy Books" were written in 1939. They are timeless, all sweetness stories, that capture the innocence of 6+ year olds with perfection. I loved these stories when my mother read them to me, and now my own little girls can't wait to sit down and read another chapter. The stories are about the everyday happenings of curious, friendly, kind little children in grade school. Ms. Haywood writes about how the first day of school can be scary, watching tadpoles grow is exciting, and best ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I love about Betsy is the pace of her life. She is in first grade but not expected yet to read. It is okay if she is not in an accelerated class or enrolled in five after school classes. Betsy's biggest accomplishment is that she can walk to school by herself, even if she does get lost. The policeman is always there to set her straight. These stories, beginning with Betsy's first day of school, when she enters first grade, and going through the school year, until June, are delightfully writ ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Andrea by: school librarian
I have been looking for these books everywhere and I am so glad to have finally found them! While my friends in elementary school were always checking out the more "popular" books in the library, I found myself coming back to this series again and again. I'm pretty sure I read every book in the series at least twice! I'm a little perturbed to discover that they've been re-released with a more modern cover, because I actually prefer the vintage look. Brings back so many memories and should I stum ...more
Patricia Wilson
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fiction book B is for Betsy is the first series and chapter book that i ever read. I was in the 5th grade. I loved and read all the Carolyn Haywood books when i was a child.
This book is a little girl named Betsy that had many adventures including going to school for the first time, have a sibling, and have a dog.
She loves school and is so good and innocent that you just can't wait to turn the pages.
I hope that every mother encourages their children to read this line of books.
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
I read all of Carolyn Haywood's book as a kid, more than once, and so did my brother. The time finally came -- my daughter and I just finished this together, with me reading her a chapter a time. She loved it, but the most fun was talking about how things were different when the book was written (1939) and yet how things were the same, especially about going to school and making friends with other children. A real treat, and we look forward to reading more books about Betsy together.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just read this to my 5 year old and we both enjoyed it very much.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
so excited to be re-reading this series; part of my local libraries ARKS summer reading program (Adults Reading Kids' Stuff). a great excuse for me to read some of my favs from when I was little:)

love that it's told from a child's perspective: how they process newness and unsettling first adventures (first day of school in the first grade), the excitement of the specialness when that day arrives, and meeting so many new friends.
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great little book for 1st and 2nd graders, maybe even Kindergarteners who can read...I remember reading "The Mixed-up Twins" by Carolyn Haywood over and over when I was 5-8 years old. Too bad I didn't know about her other books! I would definitely put the Betsy series of books on a must-read list for the very young.
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 4to 6 yrs
Shelves: children-s-books
Reading this book to my gd Betsy who is five years old. She seems to enjoy it...first book without lots of pictures. Simple tales of childhood, school, friends, it was written in 1939.
Finished today. We averaged one chapter a reading. Betsy had a big smile on her face when we read the last few words. It's a sweet book
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-childrens
I remember loving the Betsy series when I was young -- one of the first series of chapter books I read all by myself. I was curious to read her books again, as an adult. This book is sweet, and contains funny parts that my children laughed at, as we read it together. We also talked a lot about how different the world is, compared to Betsy's era.

Amanda Wortham
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as good as it was 25 years ago.
Kris Dersch
It had been a long time since I revisited Betsy. I did not expect her to hold up well with time and I was right, she did not.
There's nothing really wrong with this book. Okay, there's one thing wrong with this book. The portrayal of Native Americans as studied by Betsy's class is not great. But you expect that sort of thing from books of this era, unfortunately.
If you can forgive the prejudices of another era, then, the real problem with Betsy is that there's nothing particularly great about h
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Shame about the two stars, but really, the writing is so choppy it spoiled the book for me. Haywood seldom troubles to finish a scene, let alone provide a well-rounded vignette of first-grade life! One minute a boy has been sent to the naughty seat--turn the page and it's another day, another episode. This happens several times, often cutting a character off in mid-conversation.

How times have changed--Betsy's first grade sounds more like kindergarten today. I have often read of "sand tables" in
McKenzie Richardson
This was a nice, easy read.
The style is similar to the Ramona Quimby books; each chapter has its own little adventure (rescuing dogs, putting on a circus) to fill up one school year. Betsy is definitely much better behaved than Ramona, but still has interesting adventures.
This is an easy book to read, however I would suggest adult assistance if a child were to read it. The story was originally written in 1939, therefore there are some references that children might not understand (word choice)
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-to-kids
The child has asked for the next book in the series, so I guess that makes this book a success. There are certainly some elements of the book that feel like they are very much from a different time (unsurprisingly), and some elements that are objectionable (gender and other stereotyping), but on the whole it's a nice book and perfect for a 6/7 year old.
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a perfectly simple and easy book for young children. Nothing special, but a solid school-and-everyday-life story.

I just have one problem with it, and that's chapter four, where they learn about How The Indians Lived.

Now, before I go further, I think I'll address some of the usual complaints here. No, I don't believe the author intended to be inaccurate or offensive. No, I don't believe you're a bad person if this is a beloved book from your childhood and you read it with your kids in the
Connie  Kuntz
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this classic with the kids. It is a very simple, very lovely homage to a structured childhood. I find it remarkable how hard the kids laughed as we read the book, especially the chapter about Halloween costumes gone awry. I'm telling you they grabbed their sides, tilted their heads to the heavens and laughed laughed with somewhat maniacal joy. I have to admit, I was amused, too. Haywood has a suspenseful and fascinating way of writing about the simple joys of childhood, too. Th ...more
May 24, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I have to give the Betsy books 4 and a half stars because my first grade daughter loves them so much and reads and rereads them. They are at her reading level, and very comprehensible to her. Many books at her comprehension level are too simple in terms of vocabulary and reading level. Those at her fluency level are often too complex in terms of plat, problems, etc. Betsy is a welcome change from Junie B. Jones. I recommend it for a young child (first or second grade) who is ready for this readi ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This may have been the first book I read all to myself.
I adored it, had a koala, plaid bag, the whole deal.

Reading it aloud captivated my preschooler, who was going to a new school.

Fears abated. Listened very seriously. Chapter by chapter, night by night.

We talk about being a good friend, playing on the playground, eating lunch away from home, the tea set.

This is now. The time is 3 years old.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic, #2)
  • Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill (Betsy-Tacy, #3)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination
  • McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales
  • Along Came a Dog
  • Lumber Camp Library
  • The Toothpaste Millionaire
  • Katie John
  • All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown (All-of-a-Kind Family, #4)
  • The Moffats (The Moffats, #1)
  • The Paint Brush Kid
  • The Apprentice
  • Happy Little Family

Other books in the series

Betsy (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Betsy and Billy
  • Back to School with Betsy
  • Betsy and the Boys
  • Betsy's Little Star
  • Betsy and the Circus (Betsy, #6)
  • Betsy's Busy Summer (Betsy, #7)
  • Betsy's Winterhouse
  • Snowbound With Betsy
  • Betsy and Mr. Kilpatrick
  • Merry Christmas from Betsy