Bridge to Terabithia Chapters 1 - 3 Summary

Being the fastest runner of the third through fifth grade boys is the goal of Jesse Oliver Aarons, Jr. He is spending his summer mornings running to strengthen his body, so he can attain his goal. He will be in fifth grade, which means it is his last year to try to beat the rest of the boys. The sixth and seventh grade boys play ball games, the girls jump rope and play hopscotch, but the third through fifth grade boys run races during recess.

Jesse does his running early, so he can finish before the rest of the family awakens. His younger sister May Belle knows what he is doing, but she worships the ground her older brother walks on, so she doesn't tell the others. His four-year-old sister Joyce Ann doesn't care what her 10- year-old brother does, she just wants to spend her days playing.

Jesse's older sisters, Brenda and Ellie, are skilled at avoiding work. They manage to convince their mother to allow them to go into town with the Timmons family, to shop for school items. They don't want to pick and can green beans, which is the planned activity for the day.

Jesse is not happy to be the only one expected to help Momma with the chores around the farm. Jesse's father is not around because he works in Washington, a long drive from their home. He is always tired and grumpy when he returns each night. Jesse hopes his father will take notice of him, if he becomes the fastest runner at Lark Creek Elementary School.

While Jesse is working in the bean patch, May Belle arrives to tell him new people are moving into the Perkins place. Jesse takes little notice of them, but later he realizes this was probably the most important moment of his young life.

That evening, after making sandwiches for himself and his sisters, Jesse sneaks into his room to draw. Drawing is another secret Jesse must keep from his family. He is talented, but his father doesn't think drawing is appropriate for a boy. He told Jess this right after Jess showed him one of his pictures, when he was in first grade. Jess never forgot his father's reaction to the picture.

He is encouraged at school by one of his teachers, Miss Edmunds, the music teacher. She's unconventional because she wears blue jeans and doesn't wear lipstick, and Jesse is in love with her. Jesse lives for Fridays, which is the day Miss Edmunds teaches music class.

He gave her one of his drawings, which she praised by telling him he was "unusually talented." This was all Jesse needed to hear, now he knows he has talent and is the best at drawing in the school.

Jesse is pulled away from his musings about Miss Edmunds by his mother reminding him to milk the cow. He quickly milks the cow, finishing as his father returns from work. His father is warm and cuddly with Jesse's younger sisters. Jesse feels an empty place inside himself, because his father has never hugged him or given him any signs of affection, which he desperately desires.

The next morning, while he is running in the pasture, a voice calls out to him, it is the child who moved into the Perkins house. At first, Jesse can't tell if it is a girl or a boy, but after listening to them speak, he decides it is a girl. She introduces herself as Leslie Burke and tells him she wants to be his friend. Jesse answers by telling her he has work to do, then he walks off toward home.

The next time Jesse sees Leslie is the first day of school. They both have Mrs. Myers as their fifth- grade teacher. Leslie doesn't fit in with the other students, because she is dressed in cutoff jeans and a blue undershirt, while the others are in their Sunday best. The teacher must make room for Leslie's desk, which is at the front of the classroom. While she tries to act friendly towards the other children, none of them will respond in kind to her.

The girls pick on what Leslie wears and even what she has to eat for lunch. She knows it is going to be a long school year if she doesn't make some friends. So while Jesse is waiting his turn to run his heat, to make the finals in the boys' race, she approaches him.

Jesse doesn't want anything to do with Leslie, all he wants is a chance to show the other boys how much his speed has improved over the summer. He knows he will be the overall winner in the recess races.

Gary Fulcher thinks he is in charge of the races and he also thinks he will win the races. Jesse challenges Gary's authority after two boys tie in their heat. Gary wants one of them to run in the final, but Jesse tells him to let both of them run. Gary responds to Jesse by telling him, he bets he would be willing to let Leslie run in the races.

Jesse says he will let her run, because he is positive a girl can't beat him. Leslie agrees to run and then surprises everyone by winning the heat. After goading him into it, Jesse convinces Gary to let Leslie run in the final race, which she wins.

She thanks Jesse for sticking up for her, but he doesn't want her thanks. He doesn't want anything to do with her. He ignores her as she tries to talk to him on the bus ride home. Leslie, by this time, stops trying to talk to him.

Jesse Aarons has decided he will be the fastest boy in the third through fifth grade races. He doesn't count on new student Leslie Burke beating him. Jesse must deal with being beaten by a girl, meanwhile, Leslie is trying to become his friend.

Related Links:

Bridge to Terabithia Chapters 1 - 3 Quiz
Bridge to Terabithia Chapters 4 - 5 Summary
Bridge to Terabithia Chapters 6 - 9 Summary
Bridge to Terabithia Summary
Bridge to Terabithia Quotes
Bridge to Terabithia Important Characters
Bridge to Terabithia Quiz
Literature Summaries

To link to this Bridge to Terabithia Chapters 1 - 3 Summary page, copy the following code to your site: