Monday, July 10, 2006
Little Pilgrim's Progress
As a parent I want the books I read my children to not only be entertaining, but to open their eyes to the world around them and present Truth to their little hearts. Little Pilgrim's Progress, a child's version of John Bunyan's classic allegory of the Christian life, does just that. Helen Taylor does an excellent job of keeping the story simple enough to thoroughly engage my 3 1/2 year old son without dumbing or watering it down. It has everything an active little boy could want in a story- adventure and battles, danger, swords, giants and dragons and it's full of spiritual lessons along the way. The chapters are short, only two to three pages, and each one left us eager to find out what was going to happen next.
The book is divided into two sections, the first being the story of little Christian, a boy living in the City of Destruction. The King sends him a message through His servant Evangelist and Christian sets out on his pilgrimage toward the Celestial City. Along the way he meets other servants of the King who help him along the path and some who become his traveling companions for parts of the journey. He also meets with many of the King's enemies; Self, Worldly, and the Giant Despair who inhabits Doubting Castle to name a few. He learns to love the Prince as he faces danger, temptation, doubts, and even suffers on behalf of being one of the King's Pilgrims. The second half of the book is the story of Christiana, a friend of Christian's from the City of Destruction. She too is summoned by the King and sets out along with her brothers and baby sister. Because they're so young the King gives them a guide, a young man called Greatheart. As they travel their company grows to include many others, and it's wonderful to see the children learn to love and trust the King as they journey toward His city.
My son loves to play that he's a character from whatever we're reading, and because this story is about children he especially enjoys playing that he's one of the King's little pilgrims. Even though they're young they face great danger, and the King makes them brave and strong to fight battles. This story has given us many opportunities to talk about the great Spiritual truths that are inherent in it. My son's name, Peregrine, is Latin for Pilgrim or wanderer, so I was able to explain that to him in the context in which we intended it when we called him that.
I think one of the marks of a good children's story is that it can also keep the attention of the adult reader! Little Pilgrim's Progress not only did that, but challenged and encouraged me in my own journey on the Way of the King. I know that this will be a book we'll want to read many times. I, for one, can hardly wait!