Today we opened our discussion of Bridge to Terabithia. As usual, I had them start with telling me about the book, getting a feel for what's going on in it. We talked a lot about Jess, Leslie, and their relationship. None of that is very exciting or unusual, I guess.
Anyway, we talked about the "safe spaces" for Jess in the book, and identified them as Teribathia, Ms. Edmunds, and art. We also talked about the implications of them all being secret, and the necessity of them being secret AND safe. Mostly, it came down to an issue of freedom. Jess controls his art and can take it as far as he wants, he's able to dream freely in Terabithia, and Ms. Edmunds doesn't ridicule him about the things he loves, so with her, he's able to be himself whereas with his family he has to constantly try to be what they want.
I had my students preview the theme of the novel using the first half of the story. Unfortunately, quite a few of them missed the boat on the theme being a statement, so I'm hoping that fixes by Friday. If not, we'll have to do a writing exercise that turns their fragmented theme ideas into actual statements. Not my idea of fun.
A little less than half of the class has read the book before, so it'll be interesting to see how Friday's discussion goes as we talk about the ending.