Studying Pilgrim’s Progress is well worth the time at any age, and repeatedly throughout life. It’s one of those that should be a bedside devotional for all Christians. It is second in popularity to the Bible around the world, and for good reason.
Published in 1679, with its author a Separatist in Puritan England, it fit perfectly into our 17th Century World History Curriculum. My children, ages 5-16, all joined in studying this classic work.
This book is a classic for many reasons, but it is one of those books that should be a staple in every Christian’s library. While listening to this book (on Audible) I had to pause multiple times for bookmarks so I could write down some of the best lines. Bunyan brought the life of a Christian alive and illustrated it in a way that has not been done since. Every event, every word, every step of Christian’s journey is Biblical.
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John Bunyan was born in Elstow, England in 1628. He was converted as an adult, and within a few short years, was preaching the gospel against the law. He was a Seperatist (as were many of the American Pilgrims). But when King Charless II came to the throne, any Christians not conforming to the Church of England were arrested.
He spent 12 years in jail. But this is the best part of his story. Before his arrest, he was barely able to support his family with long hours of work, let alone have time to write a book. But in jail, he had all the time in the world, and was able to produce one of the best-selling (and in my opinion, one of the most anointed) books in English history.
Have you thought about how many times throughout history God has worked through those imprisoned? Bunyan was given several chances to be released from prison by promising not to preach, but refused. He allowed God to use this painful period to bless multiple generations down through history. This little bit of information is such a great lesson in trusting God’s faithfulness.
Besides Pilgrim’s Progress, many of Bunyan’s sermons were expanded into books. They have all been collected HERE, and are available for free download.
Torchlighters has a fun 30-minute episode on the life of John Bunyan (available to watch free with Amazon Prime):
Reading the Book
While the older kids (teenagers) and I listened to the original version of the book on Audible, I read The Family Pilgrim’s Progress to the kids 11 and under. The spiritual truths are not lost in this version, and it has truly vivid illustrations. My kids would study the artwork for a long time as I read aloud.
Also in this version, many of the important characters that Christian meets are highlighted, their name is explained further, and a scripture reference is given. It is an excellent easy (but not dumbed-down) version of the original.
Copywork and character study could easily be done with the highlighting of the different characters in this book.
Studying the Book
I stumbled on this excellent study guide by Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, and decided to use it for the teenagers. By reading a chapter or two each day, they were able to really dig in deep to the themes (and there are oh so many themes!) in this book. If you, as a parent, haven’t really studied Pilgrim’s Progress, you will enjoy it, too. Bonus for parents: the answers to the study guide are also available.
I was surprised to also find this website, which is basically a homework website, but with a really good discussion on the themes and background of the book.
This article by Intoxicated on Life is a great example of the importance of this book for teens. I highly recommend it.
There are some beautiful maps that accompany the story. Visual learners will appreciate these:
This mom had her children draw their own maps while listening to the story. And they are wonderful!
I remembered this old song written about Christian, and lo, and behold, found it on YouTube! This video has snippets of the movie:
- Bunyan Ministries has a website full of resources on John Bunyan, Pilgrims’ Progress, and Bunyan’s other works.
- Christianity Today has several great articles on Bunyan and his works.
- Delighting in His Richness has a great post about Pilgrim’s Progress lapbooks.
Though the themes throughout this great book are deep and profound, Pilgrim’s Progress is for all ages!
My kids absolutely loved it. I love it. It’s worth every adult’s time, and it’s not too early to introduce it to your children.
Thanks for checking out my study, and be sure to see my other curriculum posts!
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.