Takoma Park and Sligo Creek Helped Inspire the Novel, “Bridge to Terabithia.”

by Amy Lusignan

Takoma Park and Sligo Creek helped inspire Katherine Paterson’s Newbery award-winning novel, “Bridge to Terabithia.”

Although the novel “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson takes place in rural Virginia, the story has a surprising connection to Takoma Park and Sligo Creek. Katherine Paterson’s son David Paterson and his childhood friend Lisa Hill attended Takoma Park Elementary School together. The two main characters in “Bridge to Terabithia,” Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke, are based on Katherine Paterson’s son and Hill.

David Paterson reminisced to the Washington Examiner how he and Hill spent their time outside of school. “We used to play together around Sligo Creek building forts and inventing games.”

The idea of Leslie Burke’s tragic death in the book also originated from real life. 8 year-old Hill was struck and killed by lightning while visiting the beach with family.

When Takoma Park Elementary School moved to its current location in 1979, a cherry tree was planted at the entrance in her honor. It has since been replaced by a maple tree in a rededication ceremony in 2005.


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