Bridge to Terabithia is Great Children’s Fantasy

MT asks: “Can you tell me something about Bridge to Terabithea? it is potentially going to be a 5th gr reading assignment in my son’s Catholic School.”

According to descriptions of the contents of this book, there is nothing New Age about it, nor does it delve into the occult as so many fantasy books for children do in our post-Potter culture.

Bridge to Terabithia is a novel written by Katherine Paterson about two 10 year-old children, Jesse and Leslie,  who escape from the cruelties of school bullies and family dysfunction by creating a fantasy world in the woods out of an old tree fort and an abandoned truck. They name their world “Terabithia” and install themselves as King and Queen. In one dramatic scene, Leslie walks onto a log and shouts “We rule Terabithia and nothing crushes us!” They spend all of their free time in Terabithia where many of the imaginary creatures they encounter are symbolic of the people in their lives, such as a troll that resembles the school bully.

One morning, a teacher invites Jesse on a field trip to an art museum and while he’s gone, Leslie drowns while playing alone at Terabithia. Jesse blames himself for going on a field trip without his best friend. His father tells him it’s not his fault and encourages him to keep his friend alive by holding on to the special friendship he had with her.

Jesse takes his advice and re-imagines Terabithia, building a bridge with a sign saying “Nothing Crushes Us” across the creek. He then invites his sister May Belle to “enter” Teribithia and installs her as the new princess.

Disney made the book into a film in 2007.

Both the book and the film received very good reviews, with most critics saying the story deals with the subjects of family, friendship and the power of the imagination in a good and wholesome way.

I have no reservations about recommending this book to children.

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