Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Slice of Life Story Challenge #1 - Unforgettable Stories - Bridge to Terabithia

It's the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!

Darkness pierced by flashing light, hail pummeling the windows, reverberating thunder, drenching rain, laying awake...

     March came roaring in like a lion last night with terrible thunderstorms, hail, and torrential downpours.  The lake we live on is dangerously high - with all our docks underwater.  We sure hope it doesn't flood!  Hail pelted our kitchen skylights as I made breakfast, causing me to skirt their perimeters to avoid standing directly under them.  I had an idea for a different Slice of Life today, but this late winter storm reminded me of  the pivotal point in an unforgettable story (I read Ralph Fletcher's Chapter One, "Unforgettable Stories" from A Writer's Notebook to my students yesterday to inspire SOL writing - here is the Google Doc I made with places to go for unforgettable stories inspiration).  That unforgettable story is Bridge to Terabithia.

     This year marks the 40th anniversary of Katherine Paterson's masterpiece.  I came to read Bridge to Terabithia as a young adult.  If I read it as a young person, I don't remember it (I would have been 10, almost 11 when it was published).  I DO remember reading it in college in a children's literature course I took as a graduate student in education.  It blew me away.  I just reread the ending this morning and cried again.  It's one of the most perfect endings in all of literature.  It speaks to life, legacies, friendship, family, healing, and on and on.  I wrote about children's books with death and loss in a previous post several years ago (which I need to update), and justified why sad books are important.  And the beautiful thing about children's literature authors is that they incorporate hope. Katherine Paterson shared this post by Valerie Kalfrin on Facebook the other day on why Bridge to Terabithia is still relevant after 40 years.  I was always a reader and an English Literature major in undergrad, but it wasn't until I took that children's literature course that I realized how and why books make an impact - especially children's books. 

     I am drawn to sad books.  I've been accused by many a student that I only like a book if someone dies.  I won't lie.  That might be true.  Well, someone doesn't have to die, but I do like a melancholy tone, and a story with loss, and redemption or a legacy.  They just seem so real to me.  I love to laugh and have fun, too, don't get me wrong, and I'm not a melancholy person; I just like to see all the layers of life revealed in a story.  Sadness and loss are some of those layers.  

     I started out the day book-talking Bridge to Terabithia to my 5th graders - I'm glad it's a big anniversary year for this precious book and that it will get lots of attention. It needs to continue to be in the hands of children.  

     Now let's hope that lake doesn't flood.


  1. I sure hope the lake doesn't flood! I like how you came back to the storm at post's end. My students and I have been talking about that circle back ending. It's a sweet writing spot. Like you, I read Bridge to Bridge to Terabithia in college-- what a beautiful book. Happy slicing to you!

  2. Oh, I loved that book so much too, Holly. I read it in college and thought it was such a beautiful story. What a gift books are -- to be able to share new classics and old classics with readers!

    Hope your lake doesn't flood! Our backyard looked like there was a pond back there this morning!

  3. Wow, What a storm! I love Bridge to Terabithia. It's a summer reading book for my students, so, like Where the Red Fern Grows, I tell them they may want to read the end in private. I cry every time. I've never seen the movie, though. Have you? I usually don't want to see a movie for a beloved book. Here's hoping the storms move on. Happy Slicing!

  4. I love Terabithia and read it every year with my 4th graders. I had to laugh about reading books where people die. That is what my students say about me. When I start a book talk they ask, does someone die in it! I love heart function and they know it! We had those same storms last night and this morning. Had damage south and north of here but we dodged the bullet! Hope that water level stays low!

  5. I clicked on your post immediately when I saw "Bridge to Terabithia." It was one of my all-time favorites as a child, I even designed my own Terebinthia (subtle, no?). I also wrote about the crazy weather as a part of my post.

    PS If you like sad books, I assume you've read The Underneath by Kathi Appelt?

  6. I was once accused of reading too many books about people dieing so I understand. Imagine how many children and adults have read Bridge to Terabithia in the last 40 years!

  7. I admit it: I cry every time I read "Bridge to Terabithia" and "Where the Red Fern Grows." Nice crafting of your post. Here's hoping the lake doesn't rise any more.

  8. I too am drawn to sad books... but then I get so mad when I realize what I've done... and I cry and cry and cry.... I am waiting for a book to make my 13 year old cry though... It's a goal! :-)

  9. Holly,
    Can you believe I still haven't read Bridge? I have seen a couple short scenes from the movie, but I've always wanted to read the book. I think I would love it.

    The storms last night/this morning were intense. We were in a tornado (near Dayton) while at GS camp this summer and my daughter was terrified last night. It made those memories of the summer come rushing back.

    I hope your new place doesn't flood. I will send some dry vibes your way!

  10. Thanks for sharing. You made me want to reread this book. I also read it in a children's lit class. Books are such a gift to be reread and enjoyed again and again!

  11. I love the picture you painted of the storm this morning. Also, Bridge to Terabithia is one of my all time favorite books and I agree that books with real life sadness do seem to ring more true. They also help to bind a classroom through the experience of empathizing with the characters and each other.