Bridge to Terabithia

Book review by
Amy Finley, Common Sense Media
Bridge to Terabithia Book Poster Image
Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 72 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Includes many lessons for tweens on dealing with bullies, walking in someone else's shoes, and the value of imagination and friendship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jesse, though often annoyed by his sisters, tries to be kind, and sympathizes with his overworked mother. Leslie, the only child of wealthy, intellectual parents who sometimes forgets she's a child, knows what it's like to be an outsider.

Violence

A main character dies. The death isn't described in detail. Cremation is mentioned.

Sex
Language

"Bitch," "damn," and "hell," "Lord." A child says, "God'll d--n you all to hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, won the 1978 Newbery Medal. It focuses on the sweet friendship of a tween boy and girl who share imaginative play, creating a world of their own just a rope swing away, far from the school bullies they face. It also features a child's death and grief in the aftermath of the tragedy, and may provoke tears. There's mention of cremation, which may be upsetting to some kids. Some strong language, including "bitch," "damn," and "hell." 

User Reviews

Adult Written bymomandteacher April 9, 2008
This is a book that I will require my nine year old son to read in the next year or two. I want him to understand that not every kid lives the easy life that h... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 12 year old Written byhhunting June 4, 2009

A great book, but caution...

I listened to this book on disk with my kids, 12 and 8, which I felt was fine as I knew many of their friends had seen the movie. It is a wonderful book, with... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMiranda B. January 16, 2011

A heartfelt story that had me crying. (Which is hard to do.)

Jesse and Leslie form a quick and close bond despite their very different family lives. Both show bold and admirable imaginations, Jesse with a little bit of he... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byhamstergurl09 December 15, 2010

It's Pretty Good, But In My Opinion Highly Overrated

I read this book when I was nine. I thought it was just okay. This book is highly overrated. Not to say that it's terrible, but I don't think it'... Continue reading

What's the story?

In BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, two tween outsiders -- quiet, artistic Jesse and free-spirited Leslie -- become friends and escape from overbearing parents and bullies at school in their own private kingdom of Terabithia. Their idyllic world is shattered by a tragic accident.

Is it any good?

Among countless books about friendship and loss, this one stands out. It's notable for the tender care the author lavishes on her main characters, and for the honest portrayal of a child's grief and a child's capacity for creating beauty from tragedy. Jesse's life can be a struggle -- especially with four sisters and a need to hide his passion for drawing. But author Katherine Paterson gives voice to his fears and hopes without imposing judgment or commentary.

Readers will find much common ground with the protagonists. Jesse, though often annoyed by his sisters, tries to be kind, and sympathizes with his overworked mother. Leslie, the only child of wealthy, intellectual parents who sometimes forgets she's a child, knows what it's like to be an outsider. Though the last part of the book deals with death and its aftermath, this is ultimately a richly uplifting story of a boy and a girl who become friends despite their differences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about so much in this book, from friendship to imagination to loss.

  • How does Terabithia strengthen Jesse and Leslie's friendship?

  • In what ways is their fantasy world similar to their everyday world?

  • Have you ever constructed a fantasy world?

Book details

For kids who love award winners

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate