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    John Bunyan for Families

    April 27, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]A[/dropcap]mbleside Online assigns a number of years to reading John Bunyan {among other things, of course}. We read Book One of Pilgrim’s Progress in Year Two, and Book Two in Year Three. In Year Eight, we read The Holy War.

    John Bunyan for Families

    If you haven’t noticed, I have four children. This means I should expect to spend twelve years reading John Bunyan {if we count each reading as a year}. It’s not that I’m adverse to the idea, but I seem to have inadvertently stumbled into a different approach.

    It all started when I decided to incorporate the readings into Circle Time back in 2009. It’s worked quite well for us. Today, when we finished up Book Two of Pilgrim’s Progress, E.-Age-Eight asked if we could continue reading and start The Holy War {which is actually in the edition we own}.

    Why not? I already have a bunch of children who have heard Bunyan at all the “wrong” ages. So far it’s worked out well, so why not just continue?*

    My new plan-which-became-a-plan-on-accident is to read through Bunyan in constant rotation until my children graduate or my eyeballs fall out, whichever comes first. Here is what we read, in the order that we read it:

    1. Little Pilgrim’s Progress. To me, this is equivalent to reading the summaries before watching the opera or ballet. Having a general idea of the story line helps us understand the complex language in the real version. {Click here for thoughts on reading Bunyan in the original language.}
    2. Pilgrim’s Progress, Book One.
    3. Pilgrim’s Progress, Book Two.
    4. The Holy War.

    I’m not sure what I think of The Holy War for this age yet, seeing as we’re just starting it for the first time this week. I may have to come back here and repent at a later date!**

    For now, placing Bunyan into Circle Time is working much better for me than trying to use it as an AO reading for each individual child. As I look at what I’ve written here, I find myself thinking that this might mean that I don’t actually read through each item four times. That’s okay with me. All of the children will end up hearing it more than once, so I think in the end it will end up being more exposure, rather than less.

    * I am totally open to being wrong in my decision to read The Holy War at this age. I’m going to try the first chapter or so, and if I feel like the children are not connecting with it at all, I’ll just continue back in my rotation with Little Pilgrim’s Progress and put The Holy War on the shelf until Year Eight as suggested.
    ** I repent! We tried The Holy War and it really does need to wait until Year Eight, so I’m continuing with my rotation of the first three over and over. Good thing I really like Bunyan!

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  • Reply Jeanne April 30, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Curious to know how your kids did with The Holy War, now, Brandy.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Ahhh! I forgot to come back and repent! My oldest loved it, but my littles were completely bored/disinterested with it. My oldest was a little upset that I stopped it after only a couple weeks, but the moment I started back in on Little Pilgrim’s Progress, he was fine with it. We are in Pilgrim’s Progress Book 1 right now and it is going well.

  • Reply Silvia July 14, 2012 at 4:45 am

    🙂 I read in Spanish as you and Mystie say you deal with books, grinding material, that was a great one. But in English, since I have not been immersed in it since born, I usually approach all the books with that reverence and admiration that impedes me from taking them for granted, or from observing things like style. I simply soak in them like the children, hypnotized by the rhythm, what they offer, the beauty or ingenuity of the make up of the book. Something like singing Oh Thou Fount of Every Blessing, with words like Ebenezer, Cherubim, fetter… I do not understand it all but it envelops me in awe and it infuses an emotion and a love I cannot describe. I did sing this song with my 2 and 3 grade children in class, with my daughter in it, and I experience the same emotions than the children. My own language, Spanish, that is another story. Like Hawthorne says, I read with that sentiment of duty versus the mystery and genuine interest that children have. He talks about Eustace as not being like the grown ups. It reminds me of CM when she says we grown ups are defective. We do not see things like children and forget that every sprout is a Picciola. Go Quickly and Tell quoted Newton about observing.

  • Reply Silvia July 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I do the same. We are reading it with my ao year 2 girl, and I am not requiring narrations, neither from Parables from Nature, and I waited for Shakespeare until she is in year 3, and little sister in year 1 to have both of them and do paper puppets and such to recreate the plays and enjoy it that way. Those have been my changes. I did not start with Trial and Triumph, but I got it later last year, and now it works well after a rocky beginning.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts July 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Small world, Silvia, because I waited for T&T with my oldest, too! He was having strange nightmares about martyrdom–which was weird because we hadn’t really introduced the idea yet–and I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. I *did* do PfN with him when he was in Y1, but I *didn’t* with A-Age-Seven {who just finished Y1} because she just couldn’t track with it at all…plus I struggle with that particular book myself. I skipped Shakespeare with my oldest in Y1, also, but did it this year with the puppets with A. So funny to read your comment because I almost could have written it myself! 🙂

  • Reply Kristine May 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    We have Pilgrim’s on audio too. I enjoyed reading it, but now it’s nice to have one less thing for me to read aloud.
    Last year we did year 3.5 and read Stories from The Faerie Queen by Mary Macleod during a break from Pilgrim’s. It was a favorite. It is a children’s version of Spencer’s Faerie Queen about St. George and the Dragon written at the time of Queen Bess. The characters are virtues and vices personified, much like Pilgrim’s Progress. It is the classic quest story with good triumphing over evil that much of literature alludes to. Just thought I’d share about it.
    We also introduced Pilgrim’s by reading Dangerous Journey the summer before Year 2. The illustrations were captivating, and it gave them something to remember when we read the original version. I think it was helpful. My boys read Little Pilgrim’s Progress themselves afterwards and another retelling by Enid Blyton called The Land of Far Beyond. They loved the Blyton version and would compare it to the original. It is a group of children who leave the City of Turmoil to journey to the Land of Far Beyond. It follows the same storyline, but has a slightly different cast of characters, many who fall along the way.

  • Reply Mystie April 29, 2011 at 2:02 am

    I only have a limited experience with iPods, but I have a couple friends who have Zunes and are happy. I have got ours off Craigslist. People are often selling previous models, and you can always offer less and see if they’ll take it. 🙂 I actually was able to get first generation shuffles (the kind with no screen; it’s funny how big they look now) for $10, and the cheapest CD player I could find (for quiet time CDs) was $25! They’ve held up to boy abuse for over a year now, too.

    Anyway, I’d watch craigslist for something to fit the bill, personally, or maybe eBay.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts April 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Okay. Now I need advice. I actually had an MP3 player until about 6 months ago when my 2yo did “something” to it. It now does nothing, except possibly make a lite come on when I push a certain button. Ahem. Anyhow, if I were to buy an MP3 player, do you all know of one that isn’t too pricey but IS worth owning?

  • Reply Mystie April 28, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    If you use iTunes, it will do that conversion automatically when you tell it to burn a playlist onto a CD.

    I just got an FM-transmitter for $5 on Amazon a couple months ago (when I had a Prime trial) so I can just plug in my MP3 player in the car rather than burn CDs. It’s handy if you already have the MP3 player.

    Our library just subscribed to an online audio book collection, so now I can “check out” audio books from my home computer. It’s nice! I will ask them to buy that Pilgrim’s Progress audio, too. 🙂

  • Reply Kelly April 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I know what you mean about the expense — all of our audiobooks are either Librivox downloads or gifts from the grandparents.

    Did you know that you after you download a file from Librivix, you can convert from mp3 to an audio format and burn it to CD? I don’t remember how to do it, but we’ve done it before so we could listen to John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps while travelling.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts April 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Kelly, I noticed in the AO notes that Lynn Bruce did something similar. I wouldn’t mind getting CDs, but it is another expense, and I don’t mind reading it, so I probably never will… 🙁

  • Reply Kelly April 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    My MIL gave the kids an audio CD version of Pilgrim’s Progress for Christmas two or three years ago. It’s read by Robert Whitfield, an English guy with nice reading voice, and the kids have already listened to it three or four times. At first I tried to parcel it out as recommended but they wanted more and more, so I finally let them listen to an hour or so a day three or four days a week — it’s ten hours long, so having it on CD has been a great blessing to me.

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