Katherine Paterson

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What was Katherine Paterson's childhood like?

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Until the arrival of WWII, Katherine Patterson's childhood was, by all indications, an idyllic one.

Katherine was born in 1932 in Jiangsu province in China to missionary parents. Her mother was from Georgia, while her father was a Virginian. For the first five years of her life, Katherine and her...

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Until the arrival of WWII, Katherine Patterson's childhood was, by all indications, an idyllic one.

Katherine was born in 1932 in Jiangsu province in China to missionary parents. Her mother was from Georgia, while her father was a Virginian. For the first five years of her life, Katherine and her parents lived in a community in the Chinese countryside. Despite her young age, Katherine learned to speak in both Chinese and English. She interacted with the Chinese people in their native language and was loved by all.

According to Katherine's father, Katherine was a loquacious child: she could not be kept quiet in either Mandarin or English. By all indications, Katherine was a sociable and outgoing child.

During the summer prior to her fifth birthday, Katherine and her mother moved to the mountains for what was considered a short stay. However, war between China and Japan soon broke out, and by 1937, both Katherine and her mother had to leave China. They were sent to Hong Kong, where they stayed for a year.

After the year was up, Katherine and her mother moved back to China. However, they were there for only a short time. Eventually, the American Embassy sent the entire family back to the United States, after Japan and the United States became embroiled in violent conflict. By the time Katherine and her family were back in America, the war was in full gear.

So, Katherine's early childhood years were peaceful and happy. The advent of WWII by her fifth year, however, brought confusion, anxiety, and upheaval to her idyllic life. In all, Katherine moved eighteen times during the first eighteen years of her life.

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Katherine Paterson, the author of Bridge to Terabithia and many other children's novels, was born as Katherine Womeldorf in Huai'an, Jiangsu, China, in 1932. Her parents were missionaries in China, and her father worked as a school principal. Paterson's first language was Chinese, and she later had to learn to speak English like a native when she moved to the United States. In 1937, her family had to leave China when the Japanese invaded the country, and they moved to Virginia. They returned to Shanghai shortly thereafter, but the war uprooted them again in 1940, and they lived in North Carolina. When she first arrived in the U.S., she was regarded as strange and turned to reading as a refuge. Paterson's father's work compelled her to move a great deal when she was growing up. By the age of 18, she had been forced to move 18 times. After studying English literature and the Bible in Tennessee, she moved to Japan, where she became a missionary. Her work has won several awards, including two Newbery Medals and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.

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