Timeless Thursday: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
March 18, 2010 in Book Club Possibility, Books with Health Content, Cause and Effect, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections, Middle Grade Novel, Paterson Katherine, Reading Skills, Timeless Thursdays, Writing Skills Tags: Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson, Timeless Thursday
Many children and tweens are familiar with Bridge to Terabithia because of the 2007 movie, starring Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb. But this story is definitely a Timeless Thursday choice because the book has been around since 1977. And like many good books that stick around, people challenged it and tried to ban it and said it was not good for children to read. These challenges probably made even more parents, children, teachers, and librarians read it and helped it get made into a movie.
So, what’s the controversy? In 2002, Paterson was interviewed and had this to say about why her book has been challenged or banned in the past: “Initially, it was challenged because it deals with a boy who lives in rural Virginia, and he uses the word ‘Lord’ a lot, and it’s not in prayer. Then there are more complicated reasons. The children build an imaginary kingdom, and there was the feeling that I was promoting the religion of secular humanism, and then New Age religion.” (Source: http://news.bookweb.org/freeexpression/677.html) Or how about because the book has to deal with a very difficult subject that children have to deal with all the time in real life–death? My goodness, we wouldn’t want to give them anything to read to help them deal with difficult issues, now, would we? (Note: sarcasm here.)
If you are not familiar with the story, it’s about two fifth-graders, Jess (a boy) and Leslie (a girl), who become friends in spite of the fact that Leslie beats him in a race. Leslie draws Jess into her world of imagination–Terabithia–where they are the rulers among the forest plants and creatures, and they are safe from bullies and other problems in the mundane world. It’s a story of friendship and courage. It has tragedy–so be prepared to have your tissue box nearby.
This book has been shared in classrooms for years. Now, you can even do the book/movie comparison activity, and children can see first hand how books are always better than the movies. (Right?) They can also look for similarities and differences between the two different forms, and they can discuss why changes were made for the movie. Were these changes necessary to create a good movie? In these discussions about Bridge to Terabithia, serious themes may come up and take time to address them with students or your children. Allow them time to write or draw in their journals before and after discussions.
Is Bridge to Terabithia one of your timeless favorites?