Bridge to Terabithia Book Poster Image

Bridge to Terabithia



Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

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

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.


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

Not applicable

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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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." 

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Katherine Paterson
Illustrator:Donna Diamond
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 1, 1977
Number of pages:176
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Bridge to Terabithia was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 he does. Being a teacher, I know that many of his classmates deal with much heavier issues on a daily basis than the main characters in the book face. I will use it as a starting point for conversations with him about death, religious tolerance, and family issues. I have taught the book to sixth graders, almost all of whom have appreciated its value and had great empathy for the main characters.
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 help. Together they create a world that's just a rope swing across a creek away. In their world they are the rulers; using experiences from school like run-ins with bullies the world, Terabithia as they name it, steadily transforms into a wonderful kingdom. Then a twist puts Jesse by himself and he must learn to live without Leslie, but still feel her presence. Comments? Questions? Concerns? Email me: ogormanscommonsense at yahoo. :)
What other families should know
Great role models
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's as good as everybody says it is. There are positive messages and good role models; I particularly like the main character.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models