May: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Title: Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Paterson
Banning Reason: Abusive parents, child death
Originally Published: 1977 by Crowell
Contributors: District Fourteen and DJB
District Fourteen here, for the month of May! I cannot even fathom why a beautiful story like this would be banned. One proposed reason is because of the lack of supervision of parents and how the adults neglect the main character, a young boy named Jess. First of all—you’re lucky if you have a great family, but not everybody does. For some, this boy’s life is their reality. The boy deals with this through coming up with stories, having adventures, and toying with a huge imagination. This is an ideal coping mechanism for this sort of situation, versus him hurting himself, hating himself or becoming depressed.
The second thing that comes to mind that may upset people is that he goes to a museum with his teacher in the end of the book. Some people deem this inappropriate for a student to be with their teacher out of school. If the teacher is a mature, responsible adult, then this shouldn’t be problem. This relationship encourages students to want to be close with their teacher and have things in common with them. I know that for me connecting with the teacher somehow defined how successful I was in the class. It’s important.
Lastly, there is the tragic death of Jess’s friend Leslie in the end. It is never easy for a student in their teens to read about death, especially of a child their age or younger. However, the message is clear here: because of what Leslie taught him, Jess has the strength to accept the bad parts of life and move on, and continue to find something good, and continue to hope. He now knows that there is always something worth living for, even if its something you’ve invented in your head, something magical.
Hi Everyone, this is DJB coming to you almost a week late this time. I agree completely with District Fourteen’s statements. I don’t get way people become so uptight about Jess being left alone so often. He’s around the age I started getting left alone. I don’t feel as though his parent’s neglected him. It could be said they should have watched him closer, but trying to keep a leash on kids during the summer is about as successful as wrestling a cat while naked. It just ends badly for everyone.
I’m not exactly sure why this book is even banned. I know the official reasons, but if they’re just getting upset over a child’s death, it’s not a good reason. It is horrible and sad that Leslie died, I admit it. I even cried for her death. But that is not a reason to keep the book from children. Adults are always angry that children’s books aren’t educational or don’t deal with the real world because they’re filled with sparkly ponies and magical rainbows. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those books, I loved them as a child.) I know people who actually look down their noses at YA and children’s fiction because it is so “noneducational.” Yet along comes Bridge to Terabithia which deals in the importance of imagination, museum visits and even the sensitive subject of death. It isn’t allowed in schools.
Here is a book which can help others understand a little bit of or even help with death and loss. If stuff happens and children end up losing someone they love, whether it’s a family member, friend or pet. This book could help with some of the pain from letting children know they’re not alone in their hurt to allowing friends to sympathize and understand what people who have lost are going through. If parents or others have even a chance of sparing their children or friends from that pain, why not let them read?
Join us next both when we read Fade by Robert Cormier.
District Fourteen and DJB