Based on the popular novel by L. M. Montgomery, an imaginative teen-age girl is adopted by and wins the hearts of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.
Marilla (Helen Westley) and Matthew Cuthbert (O. P. Heggie) decide to adopt a boy to help with the farm work, but at the station Matthew finds imaginative Anne Shirley (Dawn O'Day changed her name to Anne Shirley.). Matthew doesn't mind Anne talking and likes her naming their house Green Gables. Marilla tries to take Anne back, but she won't give her to a harsh woman with children. Marilla tells Anne to say her prayers, and Anne prays to stay there and to become beautiful. When Rachel Barry (Sara Haden) criticizes Anne's red hair and calls her skinny, Anne tells her off. Marilla insists Anne apologize, and Matthew suggests she can be "sort of sorry." Anne apologizes profusely though she said what is true. Anne meets Diana and goes to school. When Gilbert Blythe (Tom Brown) calls her "Carrot," she breaks her slate over his head. The teacher makes her write 100 times, "Ann Shirley has a very bad temper." Marilla reprimands Anne until she learns it was Gilbert.
Matthew gives Anne a dress with puffed sleeves for the hay-ride; but Anne can't go until she makes up a confession about losing Marilla's broach, which Matthew then finds. Anne brags about how she is going twist Gilbert around her finger, and so at the hay-ride he ignores her. She refuses to walk with Gilbert and claims she is corresponding with essay-winner Herbert Root. When Root speaks to their class, Anne is embarrassed. She is afraid a good imagination is a bad thing, but Matthew says a little is good. After Gilbert rescues Anne when her boat sank, they become friends and give each other gifts as three years pass. When Rachel sees them kissing, Marilla tells Anne and Gilbert not to see each other anymore. Gilbert goes off to study medicine, and Marilla and Matthew struggle so that Anne can attend normal school. She kisses them both good-bye, and they both realize how much they love her. Daisy gets married and visits Anne, telling her Matthew is sick. Anne goes back to Green Gables, and the doctor tells her they can't afford a specialist; but Gilbert brings Dr. Terry. Matthew says Gilbert might have been his son, and Marilla goes to get Gilbert.
This heart-warming story of a precocious teen-ager who "reads too much" shows her learning how to handle her temper and not abuse her vivid imagination with bragging lies. Though financially poor, the lives of Marilla and Matthew are greatly enriched by the experience.