Abigail Breslin stars as the plucky young Kit in this movie based on several books in the American Girl series. Kit Kittredge lives in Cincinnati at the height of the Great Depression. At first, she does not think that her family is in danger of being gravely affected by the nation's economic troubles, but then she learns that her father has lost his job. After searching locally for some time, Kit's dad, played by Chris O'Donnell, comes to the conclusion that he must leave town to find work, which drastically changes life for Kit and her mother, played by Julia Ormond.
Kit is very sad to be without her dad, but she decides to make the best of her situation by finding her own ways of bringing in extra money. She comes up with several clever ideas and employs her friends to help her get things done. Her mother begins taking in boarders, and these new acquaintances help the house to run smoothly. Meanwhile, Kit begins to pursue her passion for writing by offering to write articles for the local newspaper. In an effort to appease the ornery editor, she puts herself in dangerous situations in search of a story.