Children’s book author Katherine Paterson (1932 -  ) has created some of literature's most memorable characters. In novels such as Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins, and Jacob Have I Loved, her protagonists leap off the page, inspiring our imaginations and compassion. But have you ever noticed how many of these characters are outsiders, kids who just don't seem to belong?

Katherine Paterson knows what it feels like to be a kid who’s an outsider. Born in China to American missionaries, she returned to the United States at age nine only to find herself excluded and teased by classmates at her new school. She wore hand-me-down clothes from the missionary barrels and spoke English with a strange accent.  

When she became an adult, however, Katherine Paterson realized that most people have felt like outsiders at some point in their lives. Maybe that's why we identify so easily with Paterson's characters, even when they seem to be very different from ourselves.

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