Little Pilgrim's Progress from the John Bunyan's Classic by Helen L. Taylor
From the publisher:
"For more than a half century, Little Christian and Christiana have captivated children in their quest to reach the Celestial City. A journey fraught with danger, pitfalls, and temptation, this retelling of John Bunyan's classic allegory, Pilgrim's Progress, celebrates more than 60 years. The anniversary edition of Little Pilgrim's Progress contains the best of the many illustrations used to depict the highs and lows of the Christian journey through life and the ultimate reward: eternity with Christ. This profound allegory will delight children ages 8 to 12, providing spiritually rich reading they will adore and long remember."
I recently finished reading this book aloud with my girls, ages 12, 9, and 6. I found it to be an incredibly enriching experience, not only for my kids, but also for myself. Being an allegory, each character and landmark in the story represent an aspect of the Christian life. And there are a lot of characters and landmarks! Characters include Christian, Hopeful, Evangelist, The Wicked Prince, Ignorance, and Great Heart and landmarks include The City of Destruction, The Palace Beautiful, Hill of Difficulty, Vanity Fair, and The Celestial City. These are just a few examples of probably over a hundred in the book. This is not a story where you are learning each character in depth and keeping them straight, but rather meeting them frequently and then moving on to the next. The symbolic character and setting names prove to be very helpful because you already know what they are meant to represent before you learn their place in the story.
The book is divided into two parts: Christian's story and Christiana's story. I actually did not realize this before I started reading, but it was fun to relive the journey again from a different character's perspective and many references to the other are made. There are 93 chapters - but don't let that deter you! The chapters are so short, some being only a page or two. I think that made it a perfect read aloud - some mornings we spent just 3 minutes reading one chapter, and other mornings we read through 10 chapters in a row.
The depth of meaning and value in this book cannot be overstated. You could do a weeks-long study on the concepts raised in just one paragraph. I did stop often to ask questions and lead discussion, but sometimes chose to just read through without comment, believing that my girls were making their own connections deep in their souls. The effects of the allegory were lost on my 6 year old, but she still loved listening to the exciting and adventurous tale. The most intriguing thing about this book is that the impact it has on you directly correlates with your personal walk with the Lord. At this point, I don't feel the need to read the original text. I could easily read this treasure chest of a book again and glean a whole new set of riches. My oldest and I were both crying through the last page!