(C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, Book Reviews, Boys, Downloads, Middle Grades, Read-alongs, Teen/Adult, The Good Book
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Pilgrim’s Progress adapted by Anna Trimiew

Pilgrim’s Progress: John Bunyan’s Classic Story Adapted for Children, by Anna Trimiew,pp1 illustrated by Drew Rose.  Great Commissions Press, 2013, 109 pages, including glossary and index. 

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12

Recommended for: ages 10-14

Bottom Line: This adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress from Great Commissions Press can serve as a readable introduction to Bunyan’s classic.

“This version is designed to capture children’s imaginations and introduce them to Bunyan’s enduring masterpiece,” according to the preface.  Great Commissions Press is the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church in America, and there’s a decided “educational” feel to this version.  It’s very straightforward and easy to understand; after a short introduction to John Bunyan, it follows the plot of his story to the letter, though condensing the detailed conversations and doctrinal discourses.  A “glossary” is included—actually a guide for interpreting all the allegorical symbols, chapter by chapter.  In the center of the book is a double-page spread illustrating Christian’s entire journey over a winding road, from Destruction to Celestial–especially helpful for keeping the big picture in mind.

It’s excellent for study and discussion, though I’m not sure how captivating it is to the imagination.  The prose is close to the original in that it provides little in the way of description or sense of place or character.  Drama and pathos probably wasn’t Bunyan’s purpose in writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, but rather to put story elements to use in illustrating the challenges of a Christian life.  The doctrinal issues, so vital in his day that he served jail time for them, get plenty of exposure here, even to imitating the numerated points that appear frequently in the last third of The Pilgrim’s Progress.  This is no bad thing and of course, these doctrinal issues need to be talked about.  Just be aware that, especially toward the end, this adaptation becomes more propositional and less dramatic.  The writing is also rather pedestrian: 

“Oh, what must I do?” cried a man dressed in rags as he walked in the fields outside is house.  “What must I do?” he sadly cried again.  The man was carrying a heavy burden on his back and reading a book.  “This book says the city I live in, the City of Destruction, will be burned one day with fire from heaven.  I must find a way to escape!  Oh, what must I do?  Where should I go?” The man anxiously looked this way and that, not knowing what to do.

The great strength of this version is providing a close approximation to the original that doesn’t scare middle-graders away.  

Cautions: None

Overall rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 5
  • Artistic value: 3.5

Categories: Middle Grades, Christian, Classics, Character Values



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  1. Hmmm….. I’d say either Screwtape Letters or Desiring God. I’m of course assuming we are eliminating the Bible as an answer.

  2. Cathy says

    As a young Christian at 15 years old, J.I. Packer’s Knowing God was the first real theology book I ever read. I’ve re-read it again and again throught the years, gorwoing in my understanding and in my love for God each time. I’d commend it to anyone!

    As a child, I read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over again and I have no doubt that God used those stories to prepare my heart to hear the gospel, re-affirm Biblical ethics and values and encourage me along right paths generally.

  3. Don G says

    I read Desiring God early in my walk and have continued to go back to it for years.

  4. Charles says

    Michael Horton’s Putting the Amazing Back Into Grace had a big impact on me as a teenager. It provoked serious thought about grace and sin that had theretofore not taken place.

    I tried reading Pilgrim’s Progress when I was younger, but it didn’t really do anything for me. I was so distracted by the in-your-face, hamhanded allegory that I couldn’t really get much from it. I should revisit it as an adult. The Lord of the Rings, however, has stuck with me as an example of a Christian writer using the power of stories to communicate big truths. There’s a reason pastors constantly use analogies or illustrations from LOTR. Stories are powerful and they stay with us a long time. For me, Samwise Gamgee and Aragorn will always vividly display facets of Christ’s character.

  5. Sylvia says

    I think #1 would be The Sovereignty of God, by Pink. Also Packer’s, Knowing God and A Quest for Godliness, and Piper’s, The Pleasures of God.

  6. Whittney says

    Through Gate of Splendor was inspiring to me! Would love to add these books to our collection.

  7. Gina S. says

    I didn’t read Pilgrim’s Progress or many other books when I was young that were specifically about the journey of faith, other than the Bible and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, I can remember my mother drawing connections between stories we read and the ultimate Story. One story that always stuck with me was The Secret Garden, for its portrayal of the transforming power of undeserved kindness, and the importance of loving the unlovely (which, by the way, my mother demonstrates beautifully in her life).

  8. Bridgette says

    “What’s So Amazing About Grace” helped me get rid of some serious baggage. This book helped me realize you forgive not for others, but for yourself. Forgiveness has everything to do with what Christ has done for me and nothing to do with what others have done to me.

  9. Tim Sheppard says

    One that was pretty influential for me was, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, by J. Budiziszewski. My Dad recommended it to me and it jolted my worldview as a young college student.

  10. Kit Dulin says

    One of my favorites is Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life by John Calvin. It is a small little book but packed with great stuff. I also enjoyed Jeremiah Burroughs’s Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – great insight from the Puritans. And I would be remiss if I did not mention that most anything by Joel Beeke is wonderful and instructive. Thanks so much! Merry Christmas!

  11. Tiffany Hansen says

    Most recently, one of the more influential books in my Christian walk has been Ann Voskamps, One Thousand Gifts. This book reoriented a lot of how I perceive day to day life in view of being a daughter of a good and generous God. I see it’s truths jump out at me now in Scripture and I go back to it often. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. One nonfiction book that I really appreciate is God Is More Than Enough by Jim Berg. Two of the most spiritually moving novels I’ve read are CS Lewis’s Till We Have Faces and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.

  13. Sarah says

    I was saved after the movie of Pilgrim’s progress! I read the book when I was older. A book that was influential was Know what you believe By Paul Little.

  14. Hannah Zekveld says

    Notes from the Titlt-a-whirl by Nathan D Wilson. It’s an eye opening poetic book about the awesome detail and beauty on our Lord’s earth. It will make you cry and laugh and excited to teach your little ones who God is and why we love His creation and why we live in thankfulness for His salvation.

  15. Sarah R. says

    Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel” – I constantly need to be reminded of God great love! Especially recently this book has comforted and encouraged me and changed much of how I view my relationship with God.

  16. Leah Rollins says

    The Chronicles of Narnia influenced me during my teenage years. Now, as a wife and mom, I don’t get a lot of time to read, so I have a lot of books around the house that have been started, but not completed. But I have read Pilgrim’s Progress twice and gained a lot from both readings. I will read the children’s version with my kids – thank you for the recommendations and the giveaway!

  17. Ellen S says

    When I was a young teenager, my grandmother have me Hinds Feet on High Places. Later I was given Piper’s Desiring God, which gave much to think about.

  18. Emily says

    The Papa Prayer & 66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb have been a huge help to me. I have also loved reading several books by Phillip Yancey. Fiction by Francine Rivers has given me great examples of what relationships with God might look like.

  19. Megan says

    There are so many!! The Gospel Primer has been awesome to read a short passage everyday and align my heart with the gospel. It’s been heart changing

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  21. I read Kevin Deyoung’s little book Just Do Something when I was finishing college, and it was extremely helpful as I decided which job to take and whether to marry my girlfriend.

  22. I loved The Screwtape Letters growing up. I think I read it too young, as some of the content was a little scary for me, but it was influential in shaping my perception of the spiritual reality in which we live. I’m thankful for a mother who spurred me on to read big and great works instead of settling for books based on TV characters. Thanks for the chance!!!!

  23. Brent says

    Knowing God by Packer and The Holiness of God by Sproul. Also The Enemy Within, but I can’t think of the author’s name.

  24. Shawn Anderson says

    Isaac Ambrose – Looking Unto Jesus. This book was around way before the phrase “Christ-centered” was popular. This book is theologically deep, covering who Jesus is and what He has/is/will accomplish. This book, along with others of Ambrose are available for FREE at http://www.digitalpuritan.net/isaacambrose.html

  25. Anthony W says

    I am reading Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. It was written a 100 years ago. It is a classic. Powerful, concise and amazing devotional about becoming closer to The Lord.

  26. Jeffrey C says

    The Soul of Life: The Piety of John Calvin, edited by Joel Beeke. My heart is moved not in adoration of Calvin, but in desiring that his unflinching aim of God’s glory may be mine more regularly and more earnestly.

  27. Knowing God by Packer and The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Burrows.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  28. I grew up loving Pilgrim’s Progress, partly from my dad reading us Dangerous Journey many times, and partly because of the dramatized audio tapes we listened to frequently. Besides that, one of the most influential books I constantly think back to is the Screwtape Letters.

    I’d love to read this new retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress – my oldest daughter is almost old enough, and already enjoys Dangerous Journey just as I did!

  29. diego says

    Justification & Regeneration by Charles Leiter… I picked this book up and could not put it down until I finish it.

  30. Kimberly Locke says

    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    and The Big Picture Storybook Bible by David Helm
    How many times have I read it aloud? Also, Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware
    How could I decide? 🙂

  31. Jessica B. says

    Feminine Appeal was extremely influential in my life. I’d also put Shepherding a Child’s Heart up high. Anything Francine Rivers really affected me as well.
    jesslburke@ hotmail. com

  32. Alane says

    To Kill A Mockingbird is the first book I can say got down into my bones. I was a young girl when I read it and it opened up for me a world where there can be real heroes, genuine convictions, and earthly justice. I think it was the first book I’d ever read where I walked away with resurrection hope, where I understood that life comes out of death (although I wouldn’t have been able to name it such at the time).

    The other is C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. I recently gave it to a friend to read as a means of helping her interpret difficult circumstances she’s entangled in — inside is a philosophical beam of light that is truly illuminating for our day.

    Our family loves Pilgrim’s Progress and we’re so pleased to have a chance to win a new copy! Thank you!

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