Radio Bristol Book Club: Bridge to Terabithia - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Radio Bristol Book Club: Bridge to Terabithia

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Inspired by the museum’s current special exhibit – Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children’s Literature – readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book featured in the exhibit. We invite you to read along and then listen in on the 4th Thursday of each month at 11—11:30am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Four images of the Reading Appalachia exhibit:
Far left: The opening panels bearing the exhibit's name and images of children in Appalachia.
Middle left: A little girl looking with delight on one of the life-size character cutouts: a bear!
Middle right: A long view of the gallery showing many of the exhibit panels and character cut-outs.
Right: A pile of books in the Story Corner of the exhibit.
The Reading Appalachia special exhibit is a wonderland of characters and stories for kids and adults alike, and it gives us a whole host of books to choose from for book club! © Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Our first on-air discussion on March 28, featuring Sounder by William H. Armstrong, was a great start to Radio Bristol Book Club. After the discussion group – including Amy Kimani and Ambrea Baumgardner from the Bristol Public Library and René Rodgers and Mary Geiger from the museum – got through our initial jitters about talking live on the radio, the conversation flowed as we explored our reactions to the book and talked through the author’s use of language and storytelling devices. And as die-hard readers, we had no trouble filling the whole half hour!

Our next Radio Bristol Book Club book is Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, which we will be discussing on-air on Thursday, April 25. Many of us will remember reading Bridge to Terabithia in middle school, and in turn, we will remember both the wonderful storytelling and the gut-wrenching impact this book had on us. It is a book about friendship and imagination, tracing an arc between the two from the first day that fifth-grader Jess Aarons meets Leslie Burke to their creation of a fantastical land together. But Bridge to Terabithia is so much more than that – for those who haven’t read it yet, I’ll avoid spoilers, but needless to say, it is also a story about love and loss, and the strength, hope, and resilience needed to cope with those two things.

Three covers of Bridge to Terabithia:
Left: The two children in the woods with Jess leaning against a huge tree and Leslie at his feet reading a book on the tree's roots.
Middle: The two children swinging across the gorge to the imaginary Terabithia.
Right: The two children walking in the deep woods with a dog.

The many covers of Bridge to Terabithia over the years capture the power of imagination, a central theme of the book.

Katherine Paterson lived in China as a child but settled in the hills and valleys of North Carolina, West Virginia, and finally Virginia when her family moved back to America during World War II; her time as a student at King College also gave her direct ties to Bristol. She has written numerous books, including 16 for children and young people. Two of her books – Bridge to Terabithia (1978) and Jacob Have I Loved (1981) – have won the Newbery Medal, an award honoring the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” She was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.

We hope you will read – or reread – Bridge to Terabithia for yourself, and then join us for our on-air conversation about the book later this month. You can pick up a copy at your favorite local bookstore or stop by the Bristol Public Library and check out a copy today! The librarians at the library will be happy to help you find a copy of the book in any format that suits you best, from book to audiobook, and even e-books.

Make plans to listen live at 11:00am on Thursday, April 25 for Radio Bristol Book Club! And most importantly, happy reading!

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