I remember reading Katherine Paterson's book to my youngest - her brother was way too old and sophisticated for "that sort of thing" (but I suspect he listened in!) Years later, I reread it just for me, and have since passed it along to my grandchildren. There are so many really good messages in there - without being preachy or talking down to children (of any age!)
When I heard that the story was being made into a movie, I wondered what they would do with it and was a bit concerned that the heart of this tender tale would not be well served by Hollywood. Well, I needn't have worried - director Gabor Csupo did a skillful job of driving this one and keeping it faithfully on the road from start to finish. I confess I had not heard of most of the young actors but that turned out to be a definite advantage - for me, they really did become the characters they were portraying. Here is a kid who doesn't fit in at school and, as the only son (with four sisters) at home, doesn't seem to feel any real connection with his father either. Not a happy time of this little guy's life! Then he meets and makes a new friend (Lesley) - and it's magic. I won't ruin the story for anyone here - I really hate that! However, I will say that, together, they find Terabithia and, at the same time, learn to live in and understand more about their real world. (That bullies have often been bullied.....)
There's no getting around this - there is a very sad part of the story and some people may worry about their children being upset. The movie deals with the "bad stuff" realistically but doesn't dwell on it. When reading the book and it came to "that part", my daughter (who has the tenderest heart in the world) was less upset by it than I was!
Some young neighbours have told me that this is their favourite movie EVER - even beating Harry Potter (high praise indeed!). I have to say that it is one of my favourites too - for children or otherwise.