Kirsten Learns a Lesson (American Girl)

by Janet Shaw

Paperback, 1988




American Girl (1988), 88 pages


After immigrating from Sweden to join relatives in an American prairie community, Kirsten endures the ordeal of a strange school through a secret friendship with an Indian girl.


½ (70 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member brittgeorge
Kirsten Learns a Lesson is one of the many American Girl Doll novels. It takes place in 1854 and addresses many issues, such as immigration, learning a new language and multicultural friendship. It is a story about Kirsten, a young Swedish girl, and a young Native American girl named Singing Bird.
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Neither speaks the same language and their friendship is forbidden. The two girls learn to communicate with one another and become secret friends.

This is a great example of a multicultural friendship because it points to and values their differences. Their culture is what makes the two girls unique. Even though it is not allowed, the two girls overcome many challenges and become friends. Both learn important lessons about one another and share a bond that many cannot understand.
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LibraryThing member Marse
The second book in the Kirsten series, "Kirsten Learns a Lesson" is wonderful. Kirsten goes to school and is upset and unnerved by it because she doesn't know the language, and especially because they must memorize lines to recite in front of the whole class. She also makes friends with a Native
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American girl, called Singing Bird. They communicate through pictures and little gifts and begin to learn English words. When Singing Bird asks Kirsten to go with her tribe, as they move to better hunting grounds since they no longer can feed themselves, Kirsten is torn between leaving her family and going with Singing Bird's gentle tribe or staying and having to endure school.

The book shows how schools were run back then, many different grades at once, memorization as one of the primary methods of learning. It also shows, without much preaching, how the native population was displaced by, in this case, the change in the ecosystem caused by settlers use of the land.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
When Kirsten goes to school, she discovers a scary new teacher, hard lessons, new people, new pressure, and a whole new language! She also discovers a new friendship outside of school with a Native American girl named Singing Bird. She and Singing Bird become best friends, and Kirsten finds that
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she likes Singing Bird’s life better than her own, but does not leave with Singing Bird when given a chance at the end of the book. Kirsten finds that she can overcome some challenges of performing in front of others and learning a new language in ways she hadn’t guessed.
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LibraryThing member cltnae
My thoughts: I really liked this story about Kristen and all the obstacles she over came. Even though she did not speak the Indian language she was still able to communicate with the Indian girl. They became friends despite the fact that most people thought that the Indians were savages. I believe
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that the experiences with the indian girl helped Kristen in her schooling because her confidence grew every day. When the indian girl wanted Kristen to go with her Kristen made the choice to stay and continue with her schooling. This book has a lesson in it that even though Kristen was not from the United States she was able to understand and learn from her freind that was an Indian and did not speak english. From her experience she was able to understand where she was ment to be and she was able to enjoy her new life even more.

Summary: Kristen is from Germany and has moved to the states with her family. It is her first day of school and she is very nervous because she can not speak English very well. They have a new teacher who seems very strict and expects a lot from all of the students. One day Kristin is getting water from the stream when she sees a little Indian girl. Kristin and the Indian girl leave gifts for each other everyday by the stream. One day Kristen takes her to her fort, in return the Indian girl takes her to her village where she lives. Soon after it is time for the Indian girl to move to a different location for food, she wants Kristen to go with her but she can't. Kristen learns that her place is there with her family and in ther school with her friends.

Classroom Extensions:1) I would have my students tell of a time when they were nervous about something, and why they felt that way. They could either tell their story to the class or write it down and turn it in. This excersise is to help them to become more confident in their writing and in themselves.2) I would have materials out for the students to make their own dolls and gifts, then have them tell a story of why they decided to make what they did.
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Original language


Physical description

8.5 inches


0937295108 / 9780937295106
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