Bridge to Terabithia By Katherine Paterson
In Katherine Paterson’s classic novel, fifth-grader Jess becomes fast friends with the new girl in his class, Leslie, after she beats him in a foot race. Together, the two create an imaginary kingdom in the woods called Terabithia, which serves as their escape from everyday life until the tragic day the real world forces its way in.
Use this audio portion, which describes the real beginning of Jess and Leslie’s friendship, to hook students’ interest in the story before you read the book. As students listen, ask them to pay attention to the recurring theme of fear in this section. Then discuss the questions below.
- Why is Jess so impressed by Leslie’s hobby of scuba diving?
- What does Jess do for Leslie on the bus?
- Does Jess have the right to call Janice Avery a name? Why or why not?
- Why does Leslie decide that she and Jess “need a place”?
- How does Jess change from the beginning of the audio sample to the end?
Facing Our Fears
Jess is afraid of scuba diving, afraid of the bullies in his school—afraid even of his own skills as an artist. But by meeting Leslie and creating Terabithia, some of Jess’s fears begin to ease. In this activity, students will write about a fear that they have overcome. Begin by distributing the Facing Our Fears reproducible . Give students 10–15 minutes to answer the questions. When children are finished, invite them to share some of their responses with the class, if they wish. Then guide students in writing poems about their conquered fears. Encourage use of active verbs and descriptive words. Post the finished poems on a bulletin board with the heading “Facing Our Fears.”
Invite students to illustrate images of their own “Terabithias.” What would their retreat look like? What creatures would live there? What language would be spoken?
Click here for a Terabithia activity on the Recorded Books blog.