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AO Pilgrim's Progress AmblesideOnline.org

AmblesideOnline: Pilgrim's Progress

AmblesideOnline offers two options for scheduling Pilgrim's Progress over Years 2 and 3:
1. Spread Book I, Christian's Journey, over two years (Years 2 and 3). [Book I divided into 72 readings]
2. Read Book I, Christian's Journey in Year 2 [Book I divided into 36 readings] and then read Book II, Christiana's Journey in Year 3. *

* Note: If you read Christiana's Journey in Year 3, the version at Sacred Texts can be divided over the year like this:
      Part Two, Section I. Weeks 1, 2
      Part Two, Section II. Weeks 3-6
      Part Two, Section III. Weeks 7-10
      Part Two, Section IV. Weeks 11-14
      Part Two, Section V. Weeks 15, 16
      Part Two, Section VI. Weeks 17-21
      Part Two, Section VII. Weeks 22-24
      Part Two, Section VIII. Weeks 25-28
      Part Two, Section IX. Weeks 29, 30
      Part Two, Section X. Weeks 31-36

If you begin AO in Year 3, you'll need to read Book I, Christian's Journey, using the one-year schedule. [Book I divided into 36 readings] (Book II, Christiana's Journey, is shorter and might make a nice summer book. It's also less dramatic.)

What Saith the Scriptures has a nice annotated text online. They have Book II here.
The Reformed Reader has both texts online: Book I, Christian's Jouney and Book II, Christiana's Journey
Books One and Two are divided into smaller texts at Sacred Texts.
CCEL has many free formats (including mp3).

Orion's Gate dramatized, very slightly edited audio available for purchase at Orion's Gate or Beloved Books or LaCelle Family Ministries. This is highly recommended, and the first choice of the Advisory.

Librivox has free audio MP3 downloads of both Books I and II.

Interesting: entire story in one-syllable words by Mary Godolphin.

If you want a child-friendly paraphrase, Helen Taylor's Little Pilgrim's Progress stays true to the storyline. Dangerous Journey by Alan Parry is a well-done picture book version, although not really designed for very young children (it has more text than pictures, and some pictures may be graphic/scary for very young children.)

Map: Sacred Texts has a detailed map to go along with the story (it looks like a fold-out photo from a book).

Bunyan Ministries has posted beautiful Victorian-era black and white illustrations that can be colored (each picture is a downloadable PDF file)

Pilgrims Progress Told to the Children by Mary Macgregor summarizes both parts (Christian and Christiana's journeys) for children. It has a very few beautiful illustrations and is well-written (not in dumbed down language).

The Pilgrim's Progress Every Child Can Read edited by Rev. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, D.D. is a 1909 version designed for children that tells the story in King-Jamesish English but removes much of the doctrinal conversations and arguments that bog down children. It includes Books I and II, both Christian's and Christiana's Journeys.

Leah posted a great concise list of links and information for AO moms, which is at the bottom of this page, here

Do I need a Modern English paraphrase of Pilgrim's Progress?


Please-Please-Pretty-please do not assume your children will require or prefer or benefit more from a modern version of Pilgrim's Progress! (Can you tell I'm begging here?)

I bought my children -- when they were very young (five and seven) -- the Orion's Gate cd's of this book, and they have listened to them all the way through at least once a year since then. They are now 13 and 16, and both insist that listening to this book when they were young, and in the original language, was the most character forming literary experience of their early childhood. There are long passages of this book that they can quote at length in the original. Phrases from this book float through their heads and out of their lips frequently.

I do not, for one minute, believe that they would be quoting those passages now if they had heard them in stale modern English!

It's the richness of the language in which these great thoughts are conveyed that captured their imaginations back then, and that's what keeps them coming back to it now.

I also do not, for one minute, believe that I would have read this book aloud to them more than once! It's not an easy readaloud for a tired mom. No, no -- this book was made for audio.

I highly recommend the Orion's Gate production. It's a dramatization, and they very gently abridged the book. My 16 yod, who as I said has the cd's practically memorized, finally read the book in full in the original form last fall, and she reported that the Orion's Gate abridgement was perfect -- they simply cut out the passages where Bunyan tends to ramble a bit and repeat himself.

Bunyan's sequel to Pilgrim's Progress, Christiana, is also available by the same folks, and I believe my daughters like it even better.

Here's where we bought ours: http://www.lacellefamily.com/ (Try this link for a listing of all of their Pilgrim's Progress products) It can also be purchased from Beloved Books.

Lynn Bruce

ps. If you can't afford this, at least consider making a recording of yourself reading the book, so your children can hear it again and again (while you're doing something else! ;-). My children love our old tapes of me reading Wind in the Willows many years ago... even though I never finished recording the last few chapters before their baby brother arrived!




I'm of the same mind as Lynn. My encouragement to begin reading the books to my children at a young age came from Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's comments in For the Childrens' Sake. She says that her daughters returned from their first day at a PNEU school all excited over the exciting story they'd had read to them: "Pilgrim's Progress, read to them in the original....'and Mrs. Norton stopped at just the wrong place!'"

We do own Dangerous Journey, though we've never managed to get an audio version (maybe this year!), and we have read parts of that with them as well. But most of what we've read has come out of the original books, occasionally abridged by Mom as we read (just in the really talky parts, particularly toward the end of Book 1). One thing I really don't mind about Bunyan repeating himself so much (if this is what Lynn's referring to) is that it adds some ongoing review to the story--Christian keeps telling people where he's been and about things that have happened to him so far. It makes it hard to forget, since he keeps telling his own story over again!

Last year, for Book 1, I had my daughter make an ongoing "scroll" out of a very long sheet of rolled-up newsprint. I have to say that a lot of her drawings were not beautiful. A few of them, I'm really sorry to say, were downright sloppy. But they were her narrations, and some of them were VERY good; and boy, does she ever know that book (not by heart, but she does remember the characters and places very well).

This year, doing Book II, we won't be making another scroll, but I think we'll probably pull out last year's from time to time for comparison, as we read through Christiana's journey.

Anne White




Everyone knows their own child best. There are some books that just don't work, for some children, at some ages.

However, in defense of the "original" Pilgrim's Progress, and if only in an attempt to encourage those who feel intimidated: it's been translated into an amazing number of languages, which says to me that people from many cultures have enjoyed it; and during the many years when there were few books written just for children, children took this and made it one of their own as well. (This is NOT meant to make anyone feel even more inadequate by their confusion in reading it! lol)

With a child, I'd suggest skipping the introduction and going right into the story. There's a man named Christian who has a problem: he's reading a book that tells him that he's in trouble and that his city is going to be destroyed, but nobody will listen to him, including his own family. He mopes around for awhile and then decides that he has to get out of there. He leaves home with his big burden (of sins) weighing him down, meets a man who tells him that the way to start is to go through the "wicket gate", and almost immediately gets himself in trouble by almost drowning in the Slough of Despond. Believe me, kids get this, and you do NOT have to stress the allegorical level of it at this age--it's simply a good story.

The rest of the book is all about his adventures on the way to the Celestial City. He has two different friends at different times: Faithful, who is put to death at Vanity Fair (he is instantly whisked away to the Celestial City afterwards), and Hopeful, who meets him after Faithful's death. He fights with a monster, goes through a very scary dark place, is imprisoned in Doubting Castle by Giant Despair, and loses his burden when he comes to a cross (and meets the Shining Ones who give him new garments and a scroll to take with him--his "ticket" into the Celestial City).

Finally he and Hopeful get to the Celestial City (after almost falling asleep in a place reminiscent of Dorothy's poppy fields. Do you suppose L. Frank Baum knew Pilgrim's Progress?).

There are a few talky places, particularly towards the end of Christian's story, that I would condense or skip. There are also a few little details that you could read or not as you choose, such as some comments about the Pope.

But kids do get the story if you let them in!

Anne White




The following all-in-one-place list was compiled by "leahintexas" and posted to the AO email support list:

The Pilgrim's Progress is scheduled in AO Years 2 and 3. Here is a link to a version that has been divided into 72 parts to make it easy to spread it out over two 36-week school years.

Christiana's Journey is not scheduled, but it may be read. This is mentioned on AO's page about Pilgrim's Progress. (AO later added an option to read Book I in Year 2 and Book II in Year 3.)

Pilgrim's Progress is also an option for HEO Year 10, to be read by the student.

The original version was written in English in the late 1600's, so translation is not an issue, but the older English can be difficult.

Many have used retellings or adapted versions of Pilgrim's Progress. Some use them as the only reading of the story while many others use them in the same manner that we use Lamb's version of Shakespeare's plays for the early years, with the idea that the student will read the original in later years.

When making your decision about retellings, one thing to note is the size of the book and the page count. Do read the reviews on Amazon, especially the editorial review. See if your library has copies of these so you can look them over before purchasing.

Retellings: Little Pilgrim's Progress (contains both Pilgrim's Progress and Christiana's Journey) by Helen L. Taylor
8.5 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
256 pages (Pilgrim's Progress is 49 chapters, Christiana's Journey is 44 chapters)
ISBN-10: 0802449263
ISBN-13: 978-0802449269
Short editorial review posted on Amazon.com
(In a Parents' Review article (posted here), Little Christian on his Pilgrimage is recommended and it is assumed to be the same book.

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress by Oliver Hunkin
10.1 x 10 x 0.7 inches
126 pages
Reading level: Ages 9-12
ISBN-10: 0802836194
ISBN-13: 978-0802836199
Editorial Review posted on Amazon.com

Pilgrim's Progress: A Retelling by John Bunyan (Author), Gary D. Schmidt (Author), Barry Moser (Author)
12.3 x 9.4 x 0.6 inches
88 pages
Reading level: Ages 9-12
ISBN-10: 0802850804
ISBN-13: 978-0802850805
Editorial review posted on Amazon.com

The Pilgrim's Progress In Words of One Syllable (Paperback) by Mary Godolphin (Author) (or, by Mary Godolphin alias Lucy Aiken)
9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
124 pages
ISBN-10: 1428088180
ISBN-13: 978-1428088184
This text is also online for free here.

Some members of the Advisory strongly recommend--no--they beg you not to use modern language versions of Pilgrim's Progress!

Audio versions are recommended by many, including the Advisory.

Audio versions:

The Pilgrim's Progress Audio Book Adapted and produced by Jim Pappas
Orion's Gate production
77 actors
Original music by Jeff Wood , lifelike sound effects
Easy to understand English with an olde English flavor
Six hours
Available from Orion's Gate and other places
This is the version that is highly recommended by the Advisory.

Pilgrim's Progress (The)
from Answers in Genesis
Unabridged reading
Over 50 actors
Music and sound effects
Over five hours
Available from Answers in Genesis and other places

Blackstone Audio has a version read by Robert Whitfield
9 hours and 18 minutes

NAXOS Audio Books has a version read by Edward de Souza
over 4 hours (is this one abridged?)

Another audio version has Max McLean narrating Pilgrim's Progress
Somewhat modernized language
5 hours and 22 minutes

Christianaudio.com has a version read by Nadia May
10 hours and 30 minutes

Finally, librivox has a free audio version, here.

If you are going to buy Pilgrims Progress, Susan Wise Bauer recommends the Penguin Classics.

Another recommendation is to go to a bookstore and look at the versions available before you decide.

It is okay to skip the Apology at the beginning. Some loved it, many found it very difficult.

If you are reading to young children, do not feel like you must look up the scripture references. Many do not. Just enjoy the story.

On the other hand, some do look up the references (especially on second or subsequent readings) and learned much from doing so.

This might be a book from which you would not expect detailed narrations. Or perhaps the narrations might take another form, such as drawing a map or scroll of the journey. It was noted that Christian himself gave frequent narrations of his journey throughout the story. Perhaps you can point this out to listeners/readers.

This is a book that can be read or listened to more than once. One person said her children had listened to it every year since they were young and could quote long passages. They used the Orion's Gate version.

Leah