Bibliotherapy In Katherine Paterson's Bridge To Terabithia

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In his book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, Dr. William Worden outlines four tasks of mourning that one must accomplish in order to “adapt to the loss” (Worden, 39); “to accept the reality of the loss… to process the pain of grief…to adjust to a world without the deceased... [and] to find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life” (Worden, 39-50). When children are exposed to death at a young age, it is difficult for them to grasp a mature understanding of death and they often lack the ability to express and verbally process their emotions (Thomas-Adams, 12). Bibliotherapy is the practice of using literature for the therapeutic treatment of mental or psychological disorders. Bibliotherapy can be…show more content…
Paterson’s novel is much more tragic than Charlotte’s Web because of how it portrays the close relationship between Jess and Leslie and explores in detail the pain Jess felt after learning that Leslie died. Bridge to Terabithia is an unlikely children’s book because of its heartbreaking storyline, but it combines elements of fantasy and childhood innocence that appeals to the minds of adults and children alike. Paterson guides children through Worden’s four tasks of mourning by forcing her protagonist Jess to go through the tasks as well. Jess is an extremely relatable character for those dealing with a sudden loss because of his honest reactions to Leslie’s death. When Jess first hears about Leslie’s death he is in denial and feels sick to his stomach. But when he hears Bill say that Leslie was cremated, he is shaken out of his stupor and his overwhelming sorrow transitions into anger as he realizes that “Leslie had failed him. She went and died just when he needed her most. She went and left him” (Paterson, 145). Jess’ anger towards Leslie can help children understand that feeling anger towards their deceased loved one is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Jess undergoes a great shift in his life when he is…show more content…
The unnamed narrator is faced with the sudden death of his larger than life best friend Jamie and is forced to adapt to a life without him. The narrator also experiences Worden’s four tasks of mourning but at a much faster pace in a novel of only eighty-five pages. His callousness and skepticism regarding Jamie’s death is understandable and a relatable reaction for an eleven-year-old boy. The narrator is thrust into the forefront of the tragedy due to his close relationship with Jamie’s family and the tight-knit community in which he lives. The narrator’s reaction to Jamie’s death is unique to the two other novels due to his ongoing conversations that he has with Jamie in his head. The narrator does not think of himself during the funeral but instead “wanted [Jamie] to know that [he] was [there], thinking about [Jamie]” (Smith, 48). The narrator struggles with comprehending that Jamie will never flash Morse Code to him, or avoid Mrs. Houser’s grass, or even pick blackberries with him again. But slowly, with the support of his family and his loving neighbor Mrs. Mullins, the narrator eventually comes to terms with Jamie’s death. But he never forgets Jamie. Instead, he thinks about what he can do for Jamie’s mother and how he can continue Jamie’s legacy. The short novel ends with the beautiful image of the

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