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Book Club Kits: Bridge to Terabithia

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Katherine Paterson

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Book Summary

  • All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year's first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn't even know enough to stay on the girls' side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed. In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.

Discussion Questions

  • How does Jess view the members of his family? What are some of their similarities and differences between the two families in this novel? How can families be a source of pride and support as well as a source of tension or embarrassment?
  • The novel has two settings: Lark Creek, a small town in rural Virginia, and Terabithia, an imaginary world. How would you describe the differences between Lark Creek and Terabithia? In your own words, what does Terabithia represent to Jess and Leslie?
  • Leslie and Jess seem to balance one another out perfectly, blending seamlessly into one harmonious friendship. How do Jess and Leslie become friends? What is it that makes these two so compatible? What does their friendship say about each of them, and what does their friendship specifically say about friendship in general?
  • In the past, some people have suggested that this book is inappropriate for children because it describes death, a topic that some children might not be able to handle. In your opinion, is Bridge to Terabithia an appropriate book for kids? How might reading about Jess's loss help students who have to face their own losses someday? What are some ways that people cope with death?
  • A real-life tragedy led Katherine Paterson to write Bridge to Terabithia. Her son David’s best friend, Lisa Hill, was struck by lightning and killed. How does knowing about this tragedy add to your understanding and appreciation of the book?