Louisa May Alcott’s First Book
Reading Comprehension Activity

Louisa May Alcott is most famous for her book “Little Women.” This passage tells of her family’s poverty and the writing of her first book, “Flower Fables,” when she was only 16 years old. Students will read the passage and respond to questions on Louisa’s character traits and the details of the story.

Topic(s): Historical Fiction. Skill(s): Summary, Character Traits. Genre(s): Prose

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


Louisa grabbed her hat and coat. “See you later. I’m late for work.” She dashed out the door and raced toward town.

“Whew! I made it.” She smiled at Mr. Wilmington. “Good morning. I’ll take over now. Class open your readers to page ten.”

Mr. Wilmington nodded and left the classroom.

When Louisa got home, her older sister Anna met her at the door.

“How was work this morning?” said Anna.

“Fine.” She brushed past her sister and headed to the kitchen. “I missed breakfast, and I’m starving.”

Anna followed close behind. “I’m on my way to Mrs. Fitch. I have to clean her house today.”

“Where are Beth and Abigail?” Louisa rummaged through the cupboard and found bread and some butter. She made herself a quick sandwich.

“Louisa!” said Mother as she came in from the yard. “How many times do I have to tell you to sit down when you eat.”

“Sorry, Mother.” She sat at the kitchen table and ate the sandwich.

“Your sisters,” said Mother, “are in the other room doing some sewing for Mrs. Masters. I don’t know what we’d do if you girls didn’t work to help support our family.”

Anna kissed her mother’s cheek. “I have to go. I’ll see you later this afternoon.”

Louisa took some water from the pitcher. “I’ll help Beth and Abigail in a little bit. I’m working on my first book. I’m calling it Flower Fables. I had a great idea earlier while I was teaching. I want to write it down before I forget.”

“What’s your book about?” said Mother.

A smile spread across Louisa’s face. “Oh, it’s different stories about elves, fairies, and sprites. This way, I can teach a number of lessons all in one book. Each story will be about a different good behavior and why it’s important to have these qualities.”

Mother shook her head. “You’re always surprising me, Louisa. That’s a wonderful thing to do.”

Every day, Louisa made time to write, even if it was before she went to sleep. She finished her first book at 16, but it wasn’t published until she was 22 in 1854.

Comprehension Questions

Get the passage & questions on one printable PDF.

Interactive Banner 2

Enter description text here.