Exploring Friendship With Bridge to Terabithia

This site opens to a preview/overview of the lesson and includes tabs that link to NCTE/IRA and state standards, resources and preparation, and the instructional plan with assessment. In this lesson, students make predictions about the book and its main characters, complete character studies as part of an in-depth look at Jess and Leslieu2019s friendship, and relate the charactersu2019 own experiences to their own as they define friendship and identify ways to make and keep friends.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • Access prior knowledge by making predictions about Bridge to Terabithia
  • Improve comprehension by reading and discussing the story, focusing on the main characters' relationship
  • Apply what they have learned about character development by completing character studies of the main characters
  • Extend and analyze what they have learned from looking at the main characters by discussing what it means to be a friend
  • Apply and connect this knowledge to their own lives by brainstorming ways to make and keep friends


Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • Display the Ways to Make and Keep a Friend Chart in your classroom. Periodically prompt students to look at it and think about the things it says (for example, first thing in the morning, when they are on their way out to recess, just before school gets out for the day, or whenever one of the behaviors on the list is exhibited in the classroom).
  • Have each student use the Letter Generator to write a letter to Leslie as Jess. Using the friendly letter template, Jess should write to Leslie and tell her how losing her friendship has affected him. Invite volunteers to read their letters in class.
  • Have students read and discuss the lyrics to the Simon & Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in relation to the book and its characters. Ask students, “How is the bridge over troubled water in the song like the bridge to Terabithia in the book?” Have a girl volunteer read aloud the first verse, instructing the class to imagine that they are listening to Leslie speaking the words to Jess. Then have a boy read aloud the third verse, asking the class to imagine they are listening to Jess speaking to Leslie. Who else in the book besides Jess and Leslie might the song lyrics fit? Could the song lyrics apply to you and a friend of yours?
  • Encourage students to explore the It’s My Life - Friends website. Have students locate the “How to Make Friends” topic in the “You Said It” pulldown menu. They can read through other kids’ ideas and add new ones to the How to Make and Keep Friends Chart.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (HarperCollins Trophy, 2003)
  • Chart paper and markers
  • LCD projector (optional)