Bibliographic Information: Shaw, Janet. Meet Kristen. Middleton, WI: Pleasant Company, 1986.
In 1854, Kristen Larson and her family are sailing to America from Sweden. She makes friends with another girl, Marta. A storm hits the ship, which further deteriorates Kristen’s mother’s health. They have to hide below deck so that they’re not washed overboard. They eventually make port, and Kristen marvels at America on their train journey to Minnesota. Marta thinks everything is an adventure. When the family goes shopping, Kristen gets lost, and is frightened because she doesn’t know English. A kind woman helps her as they speak by drawing pictures, and the family is reunited. Marta becomes ill with cholera and passes away. They reach Minnesota and their family that had travelled to America before them. Kristen becomes friends with her cousins Lisbeth and Anna. The girls build a secret fort and play with their dolls. Kristen likes her new life.
Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 650; Accelerated Reader: 3.8
Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on Kristen’s travel to her new home. It teaches about how both good and bad happen in life. The text is 3rd grade reading level.
Content Area: Social Science: European Immigrant History, 1800’s
Content Area Standard:
CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5: #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
This is a great historical fiction book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like family, dealing with grief, and self-worth.
Note: This book is part of the American Girls collection, which also has a magazine. Girls can get dolls that look like any of the American Girls (all races and many backgrounds are represented), or a custom doll that looks just like her. I still have my mini-me. Kristen was the first American Girl I read about.