The four March girls work hard while their father is away at war. Meg, the eldest, teaches. Jo has to read to a bad-tempered old aunt every day. Beth helps at home with the housework, and Amy, the youngest, must go to school. Life is hard, but the girls still have time for fun. They enjoy going to parties and dances, even if they are too poor to buy new party dresses. They act in plays at Christmas, and when it is cold, they go skating on the river. Things get really interesting when Jo meets Laurie, the grandson of the rich old man who lives next door. The girls all learn something, and grow up a little, while their father is away. When he finally comes home, his 'little women' have a few surprises for him.