When Pollyanna Whittier finds herself orphaned after her father passes away, she goes to live with her aunt, Miss Polly Harrington, a lonely and bitter middle-aged spinster. Miss Polly's maid, Nancy, befriends Pollyanna, who teaches Nancy her late father's "Glad Game," where there is always "something in everything to be glad about."
This positive message begins to take over the town, including Mrs. Snow, an elderly hypochondriac; Reverend Ford, a discouraged minister; and Mr. Pendleton, a wealthy, lonely bachelor. Pollyanna changes Mr. Pendleton's life for the better forever when she convinces him to take in Jimmy, a young orphan boy looking for a home.
Pollyanna's inquisitive nature begins to uncover the story behind Miss Polly's unhappiness when she befriends Dr. Chilton, Miss Polly's suitor from the past who still loves her, despite the quarrel that broke off their engagement many years ago. Pollyanna is trying to bring the couple back together when an automobile accident threatens her life and ability to walk.
Everyone in the town then realizes the impact Pollyanna has had on their lives, and even Miss Polly agrees to play the "Glad Game" to cheer her up. Pollyanna's struggle to remain glad despite her injuries brings together the whole town in an effort to help the young orphan girl who brought so much light into their lives.
The timeless story of Pollyanna reminds us to be grateful for what we have and to always cherish those around us despite the challenges life brings.