Playing pilgrims

Words: 401-500

Skills: Character Traits Context Clues Story Elements

Grades: 2nd 3rd 4th

Topics: Realistic Fiction

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range:

Lexile Measure:

CCSS: Reading: Literature


Playing Pilgrims

by Louisa May Alcott from Little Women

Chapter One passage: Among the most beloved of classic children’s books, “Little Women” was written by Louisa May Alcott shortly after the U.S. Civil War. The story follows the lives of four sisters who are approaching adulthood. Students will read the passage and respond to questions about the characters and the setting.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Playing Pilgrims

by Louisa May Alcott from Little Women
Little Women is the story of four sisters named Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. They live with their mother while their father is a chaplain with the Union Army during the Civil War. In this passage, the girls are getting ready for Christmas.


 As young readers like to know 'how people look', we will take this moment to give them a little sketch of the four sisters, who sat knitting away in the twilight, while the December snow fell quietly without, and the fire crackled cheerfully within. It was a comfortable room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture very plain, for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it.

Margaret, the eldest of the four, was sixteen, and very pretty, being plump and fair, with large eyes, plenty of soft brown hair, a sweet mouth, and white hands, of which she was rather vain. Fifteen-year-old Jo was very tall, thin, and brown, and reminded one of a colt, for she never seemed to know what to do with her long limbs, which were very much in her way. She had a decided mouth, a comical nose, and sharp, gray eyes, which appeared to see everything, and were by turns fierce, funny, or thoughtful. Her long, thick hair was her one beauty, but it was usually bundled into a net, to be out of her way. Round shoulders had Jo, big hands and feet, a flyaway look to her clothes, and the uncomfortable appearance of a girl who was rapidly shooting up into a woman and didn't like it. Elizabeth, or Beth, as everyone called her, was a rosy, smooth-haired, bright-eyed girl of thirteen, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression which was seldom disturbed. Her father called her 'Little Miss Tranquility', and the name suited her excellently, for she seemed to live in a happy world of her own, only venturing out to meet the few whom she trusted and loved. Amy, though the youngest, was a most important person, in her own opinion at least. A regular snow maiden, with blue eyes, and yellow hair curling on her shoulders, pale and slender, and always carrying herself like a young lady mindful of her manners. What the characters of the four sisters were we will leave to be found out.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. Which sister do you think would be most likely to get into trouble? Explain your choice.

2. Use three adjectives to describe the room the girls were sitting in. Don’t use any of the adjectives from the text.

3. Which sister do you think would be the shyest? Explain your choice.

4. What does “pervaded” mean in the following: “a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it”?