Ten-year-old Jesse Aarons gets up early each summer morning to run, sprinting as hard as he can as he trains to become the speediest kid in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. If he can win the races his classmates hold at recess, he won’t just be ‘some kid who likes to draw.’ It won’t matter that his sisters are always squabbling, his short-tempered mother makes him do most of the work around the house, and his father works such long hours that it feels like he’s never home. If he can get strong enough, Jess will be the fastest. Important. Special.
But just as the races are about to begin, a new kid—a new girl—joins the races and beats every boy competing—including Jess. Leslie Burke is considered by most to be pretty strange, and at first Jess wants nothing to do with her. But both of them are lonely, and as the weeks go by, they begin to form a friendship that will change their lives. Leslie has an incredible imagination, and one afternoon she and Jess invent Terabithia, a world of their own where they transform from outcast kids to courageous rulers.
Leslie tells Jess wonderful stories and leads him on fantastical imaginary adventures, but her most important gift to him is confidence in himself. When the two of them are together, Jess feels like nothing can stop them. But when he’s forced to face his greatest fear—alone—will Leslie’s guidance be enough?
A Newbery Medal winner, Katherine Paterson’s story of friendship and loss has become a modern classic. Bridge to Terabithia touches on a wide array of themes and emotions, exploring grief, hope, and finding your place in the world—all through the eyes of a ten-year-old. Jess’ struggle for self-acceptance and a sense of belonging makes him a strong and believable lead character, and Leslie is all but irresistible, an extraordinary girl with a radiant imagination. Moving and powerful, Bridge to Terabithia is an excellent choice for book groups, and I would highly recommend it to readers ages ten and up.