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"B" Is for Betsy

(Betsy #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,491 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Carolyn Haywood's stories about her irrepressible character Betsy have never been out of print, and now, thanks to dynamic new covers, the Betsy books will find their way onto the bookshelves of modern young readers--and into the hearts of a whole new generation.

Betsy is scared about going to first grade, but it turns out school is a great place. She learns about tadpoles
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1939)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,491 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most of these chapters are five stars, in my book. Besty is a sweet, interesting little girl without being obnoxiously perfect or saccharine. Written in 1931, this story contains some excellent "old-fashioned values" yet most of Betsy's adventures are still quite relatable for modern children, from her reluctance to start school to her desire to have a puppy of her own to the day she just feels very out of sorts and does all sorts of naughty things. I love the chapter where she picks violets ...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
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..
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely adorable. Written in 1939 it is a classic little girl book - and for big girls, too!
Amy Rae
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
So sweet. Holland was totally absorbed in this book and we read it in about three days.

Read it with Monet for our homeschool preschool year and she loved it.
Laurie Fieldman
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Patricia Wilson
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
I just read this to my 5 year old and we both enjoyed it very much.
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.

May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Amanda Wortham
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just as good as it was 25 years ago.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was so excited to find this book at the library after thinking about this series for a while. I used to read these "Betsy" books over and over in elementary school and almost 50 years later I figured that I wouldn't find them interesting at all. I was pleased at how much I enjoyed reading this again after all these years. A lot of people complain about how dated it seems but this book was written in the 1930s and it just reminded me of the old movies on TCM.

It's a very easy read and great for
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
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 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I finally convinced Bri to pause on her beloved Magic Treehouse books long enough to let me read her something else. Both girls enjoyed this sweet little book about starting first grade before cars were a thing. There's nothing earth-shaking here, but the girls like hearing about other children going through things similar to their own lives. With Bri starting school next year, she particularly enjoys this type of book.
Vera Wilson
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
had read this as a child, and happen to come across a copy when working in school library. Figured kids must still enjoy since at the library. Was doing volunteer work at the school. Reading time for 2nd grade class used the week of 12/10-14. Read a section each day. The children really enjoyed it, so a book that has been around for years. But still interest kids. Would recommend to others.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg
I don't love these quite as much as the Betsy-Tacy books but they are very sweet. Published in 1939, their period details are charming. A boy brings tadpoles to school in a cardboard box (no plastic)! Betsy walks to school alone at 6 years old. But some eternals remain, like the joy of discovering one's very first school friends.
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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