Bridge to Terabithia and Okay for Now

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bridgeAs writers we have a love of reading first and for many it started young. At least one special book hooked us, caused us to devour pages and eventually shelves. Then we each ended up here with the desire to create passionate readers in others. There were so many books of my youth, but out of them all, one stands above the rest. I still remember when my mom introduced me to Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977).

Mom is the main influence of my kidlit love. As a teacher, every summer/school break and family vacation she was equipped with a wonderful book for us to read together. I remember being in the fourth grade when she brought into my room Bridge to Terabithia along with a box of tissues. I learned later that she almost didn’t introduce me to my favorite book due to fear it would upset me. On the contrary, it is the most beautiful, uplifting book, and yes I used every tissue. To me that is book brilliance. I felt something.

Another, more recent book spoke similarly to me: Gary Schmidt’s Okay for now (2011). Gary Schmidt is a fabulous writer. He has earned the Newbery Honor twice and Katherine Paterson have received the Newbery Medal twice. Both books follow male main characters dealing with coming of age. Both Bridge’s Jess Aaron (5th grade) and Okay’s Doug Swieteck (8th grade) deal with their individuality and being members of their poorer families. Both work real hard and are artists that are embarrassed by its so called unmanliness. Education plays a key role in these books with teachers that both inhibit and inspire. And of course a girl who changes everything. Throughout these two are the themes of friendship, courage, and loss and recovery.

okayThey are unique in wonderful ways too. Bridge takes place shortly after the Vietnam War and Okay takes place during the Vietnam War which makes a cool historical comparison. The losses involved differ too and I will not spoil them. My favorite thing that Gary Schmidt brings to the table is his humor (read his Newbery Honor: Wednesday Wars). He has the laugh cry down. And then Paterson hits upon the imaginative play/world that I missed in Okay for Now.

Writing this post rocked for a number of reasons. One, I got to reread Bridge to Terabithia and recall its magic appeal. Two, I discovered a new favorite and saw its beauty. Three, I have a better idea of what I too need to do as a writer to be shelved among these greats.

All of us our connected by similar emotions/struggles. As writers we need to tap into these. If our readers feel something, they are readers for life. What are your childhood favorites?

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One Response to “Bridge to Terabithia and Okay for Now”

  1. Jessica Toman Jessica Toman says:

    Edit *our at the end should be are. Oops.

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