The Bridge To Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson, Crowell. Newbery Winner 1978
Activities 2000 Nancy Polette

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Jess Aarons had to be the fastest runner at Lark Creek Elementary School, the best, but when he was challenged by Leslie Burke, a girl, that was just the beginning of a new season in Jess's life. Leslie and her parents were newcomers to the rural community where Jess lived, and were thought to be a bit odd, for they didn't even own a TV, though their house was filled with books. Somewhat to Jess's surprise, he and Leslie became friends, and the worlds of imagination and learning that she opened to him changed him forever. It was Leslie's idea to create Terabithia, their secret kingdom in the woods where they reigned supreme. There no enemy, not their teacher Monster Mouth Myers, their schoolmates Gary Fulcher and Janice Avery, Jess's four sisters, or even Jess's own fears and Leslie's imaginary foes could defeat them. The legacy that Leslie finally brought to Jess enabled him to cope with the unexpected tragedy that touched them all.
The Setting of the Story:
This story takes place in rural Virginia. How much do you know about this state? Answer the questions below. Guess if you do not know. Then read the information on the Virginia website to support or deny your guesses. 
  1. Yes or No: Virginia was named for Queen Elizabeth I of England. 
  2. Yes or No: Virginia is sometimes called the Mother of the States. 
  3. Yes or No: The greatest distance north to south in Virginia is 205 miles. 
  4. Yes or No: Coal is Virginia's most important natural resource. 
  5. Yes or No. Virginia is 36th in size among the states.

Virginia (Celebrate the States) by Tracy Barrett. Benchmark Books, 1997

Using information from the Virginia web site and this pattern, compare Virginia with your state.

If I visited Virginia I could ________________________________________
And I would____________________________________________________
And __________________________________________________________
But I couldn't___________________________________________________
 (name something to see or do in your state)
Because visitors to __________________________________ (name your state) do that. 

Leslie not only beat Jess, the fastest runner in the school, in a race, but she 
taught Jess that it is possible to overcome any problem with determination and courage. A modern track star who holds the same beliefs is Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic champion. Visit the web site for Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Read about the difficulties she had to overcome as well as her achievements. Create a FORTUNATELY, UNFORTUNATELY report that indicates how she solved problems and overcame obstacles.
FORTUNATELY Jackie's father encouraged her to become an athlete
UNFORTUNATELY her mother died of spinal meningitis in 1982.
FORTUNATELY Jackie excelled in basketball in high school.

Jackie Joyner Kersee by Richard Rambeck, Child's World, 1997.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Superwoman by Margaret J. Goldstein, 
Lerner Pub., 1994

What similarities do you see between Leslie and Jackie Joyner-Kersee?