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Lesson Plan

Exploring Friendship With Bridge to Terabithia

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Exploring Friendship With Bridge to Terabithia

Grades 4 – 6
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa L. Owens

Lisa L. Owens

Issaquah, Washington


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Katherine Paterson's novel Bridge to Terabithia follows the relationship of fifth graders Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke as they meet and become friends. The book can be used as a means for students to understand and explore the value of friendship. In this lesson, which is most appropriate for use in fourth- through sixth-grade classrooms, students make predictions about the book and its main characters, complete character studies as part of an in-depth look at Jess and Leslie's friendship, and relate the characters' experiences to their own as they define friendship and identify ways to make and keep friends.

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Character Trading Cards: Have students use this interactive tool to create a trading card for either Jess or Leslie, capturing information that highlights each character’s search for friendship and role as a friend to the other.

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Roser, N.L., & Martinez, M.G. (Eds.). (2005). What a character! Character study as a guide to literacy meaning making in grades K–8. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

In "Enhancing Literature Experience Through Deep Discussions of Character" Karen Smith writes that "Great characters in children's literature entertain us. They fill our lives with laughter, mystery, and wonder. But equally important, these characters validate who we are and offer us possibilities for whom we may become" (132). Smith has students read an entire book before study begins, checking in with them to answer any questions and ensure they are keeping pace with the reading schedule. She follows the reading week with three or four discussions about the book's characters, looking at their motivations and comparing their lives and perspectives to the students' own.

In the same book, Caitlin McMunn Dooley and Beth Maloch explain in "Exploring Characters Through Visual Representations" that students can effectively use graphic organizers to visually represent their understanding of characters. Charting details helps students explore and apply meaning to multiple perspectives.

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