Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress

It's not long until I start my Equip Books series on Pilgrim's Progress! Can I encourage you to start reading it yourself, or with your children?

There are three children's editions I'd recommend, if you want to read one with your children:

For pre-schoolers - Dangerous Journey
My 5-year old adored this. It draws on the original language, very much shortened and simplified, and the illustrations are of exceptional quality.

For school aged children - Helen Taylor's Little Pilgrim's Progress
Highly readable, well told, faithful to the original, and includes both the story of Christian and Christiana.

For older children - Pilgrim's Progress (part I) and Christiana's Story (part II)
My 7-year old loved hearing his father read him the first of these. These are original language versions, so beautifully produced that they make reading a pleasure.

I think Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful read, both for adults and children, and we have so much to learn from it about the Christian life. Here's what I've written so far at Equip Books, with information about some adult's editions you might like to get hold of:

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a den; and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and as I slept I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled: and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry; saying, “What shall I do?”

Every time I read this opening paragraph, it sends shivers down my spine! And I'm not alone in loving Pilgrim's Progress: it has long been the world's best-selling book after the Bible, translated into over 200 languages. Missionaries carried it all over Africa and Asia, and it's especially popular in the third world.

Charles Spurgeon, who read Pilgrim's Progress more than 100 times, said, "Next to the Bible, the book that I value most is John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress ... it is ... the Bible in another shape." Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, "This wonderful work is one of the very few books which may be read over repeatedly at different times, and each time with a new and a different pleasure." ...

... read the rest here


Sharon said...

I read Dangerous Journey to three of my children, aged 5, 4 and 3 earlier this year. I find it interesting that your 5yo enjoyed this book. My 5yo found it much too tense and exciting, and the 4yo struggled with it's suspenseful nature also, although perhaps only because she saw her brother so upset.

Mind you, I kept reading (with a lot of encouraging commentary) and they did get through to the end. I'm planning to read it to them again, but I think I need to waith until my son (the 5yo) passes through this stage where he's concerned about any little problem that arises (he even finds the cartoon Curious George almost unbearably exciting).

~ Sharon

Jean said...

Thanks for your helpful observations, Sharon. I wouldn't have read this book to my other 2 children at 5, necessarily: they were very sensitive, became anxious easily, and would have found it scary. But my son Tom, as you may have noticed, likes things to be as scary and adventurous as possible (within reason - there's a lot I don't expose him to!) and he loved it.

The middle book of the 3 I mentioned is the gentlest and most reassuring. It's told in an appealing, gentle style (the style reminded me a little of Patricia M. St. John, if you've read any of her children's books). My friend's 5-year old loved this one, although my son said "too many words, not enough pictures" - it's a chapter book, so depends on having a longer concentration span.

Thanks for reminding me the first wouldn't be suitable for every child. Funny how quickly you forget!

mattnbec said...

At the moment, PP is being read as a serial (chapter by chapter, I guess) at our church as the children's talk. The pictures are there on the big screen for all to see, and the guy reading it is expressive and reads it well. It's been great!