Bridge to Terabithia Extension Activity
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
1. Jess struggles with many fears, especially his fear of swinging over the rain-engorged gully to Terabithia. Write about a time when you had to overcome a fear. What were you afraid of, and how did you face your fear? Did you use any of the same coping mechanisms as Jess? When is it important to overcome your fear, and what is the best way to accomplish this?
Students will have many responses to this question, but most will relate to Jess's fears and efforts to avoid his fears. Jess is deeply afraid of swinging over the eight-foot-wide rushing stream after the spring rains, and he is even more afraid of admitting this fear to Leslie, who seems to fear nothing. When Miss Edmunds asks him to accompany her to the Smithsonian, he is thrilled, in part because he will be able to avoid having to explain his fear of the gully to Leslie. Later, Jess overcomes his fear of the flooding gully when he must rescue May Belle, who has followed him to Terabithia.
2. Imagine that after some time has passed, Jess has decided to write a letter to the Burkes to let them know what their daughter meant to him and how his life has changed since he first met her. What would he say to them? How would he describe his friendship with Leslie and her effect on his life? Write a letter from Jess to the Burkes, imagining how Jess would describe his friendship with Leslie.
After Leslie's death, Jess realized more than ever what she brought to his life. He decided that "It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength" (p. 126). In writing a letter to the Burkes from Jess, students can imagine how Leslie's vision and courage shaped Jess's life, and how he does "pay back to the world" what she taught him.
3. What does Terabithia look like? Reread the descriptions in the novel and draw a color map of Terabithia based on details from the novel. Be sure to include its main features such as the entrance, the castle, and the pine forest.
This assignment gives students the opportunity to reread Paterson's rich descriptions and then re-create the land of Terabithia in a visual way. Students might be encouraged to label the map features using Jess's and Leslie's own words from the novel.