Katherine Paterson Biography

Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

One of the most respected contemporary authors of young adult literature, Katherine Paterson was born Katherine Womeldorf on October 31,...

(The entire section is 258 words.)

Katherine Paterson Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Catherine Paterson was born October 31, 1932, in Qing Jiang, China to George Raymond and Mary Goetchius Womeldorf, Presbyterian missionaries....

(The entire section is 460 words.)

Katherine Paterson Biography

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Introduction

Katherine Paterson’s first language is Chinese despite the fact that she was born to English-speaking parents. Her parents were missionaries in China, and the family moved fifteen times during Paterson’s childhood, which, along with her difficulties in learning to read and write in English, contributed to her sense of isolation and loneliness as a young girl. These themes found their way into her later works of fiction for young adults. Her most famous, and most controversial, book is Bridge to Terabithia. It has been both praised and criticized for its frank treatment of death. Paterson’s writing has won many awards, including the 1977 Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia.

Essential Facts

  1. Paterson was a missionary in Japan after college. Much of her writing incorporates the Japanese and Chinese cultures with which she was so familiar.
  2. Paterson once wrote Sunday school curriculum for fifth- and sixth-grade students.
  3. Paterson is currently the vice president of the National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance.
  4. Bridge to Terabithia was inspired by the death of a childhood friend of Paterson’s son.
  5. Bridge to Terabithia was made into two films, the most recent in 2007. Paterson’s son, David, was a producer and screenwriter on the film.

Katherine Paterson Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Katherine Womeldorf Paterson was born on October 31, 1932, in Tsing- Tsiang pu, China, where her parents were missionaries. She came to the...

(The entire section is 129 words.)

Katherine Paterson Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Katherine Womeldorf Paterson was born on October 31, 1932, in Tsing-Tsiang pu, China, to Southern Presbyterian missionaries. World War II...

(The entire section is 310 words.)

Katherine Paterson Biography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

In December 1992, a parent of a fifth grader in Kansas objected to Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia (1977) for its language and its portrayal of a nontraditional family. The novel was withdrawn from classrooms. This book has also been challenged in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and California, and it has appeared several times on the list of the ten most banned books in the United States. Other objections have centered on its portrayal of alleged “New Age” religion, disrespect for authority, theological treatment of death, and negative portrayals of Christianity. Another book, The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), has been challenged in schools in North Carolina, Connecticut, and Texas for its use of profanity, obscenities, and derogatory remarks about God.

In an interview about censorship challenges to Bridge to Terabithia, Paterson noted, “As the daughter of missionaries, as a missionary myself, and as a minister’s wife, I care deeply about the moral lives of children.” Paterson believes that books are uniquely suited to develop children’s inner strength and argues that censorship of children’s books leads to children’s “intellectual and spiritual poverty.”

Katherine Paterson Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Katherine Womeldorf Paterson was born on October 31, 1932, in Tsing- Tsiang pu, China, where her parents were missionaries. World War II...

(The entire section is 233 words.)