Trinity Reads 2015 and
This year’s read is a true classic. Pilgrim’s Progress has been in print since it was first published in 1678, and it has influenced countless generations of readers.
John Bunyan was a relatively uneducated son of a tinkerer who became a follower of Christ and was jailed for holding religious services outside the approved Church of England (thus the name Nonconformist). It was while he was in prison that he penned this work. His introduction tells how the book came to him: “like sparks that from the coals do fly” and like pulling a string that came to him without snagging. The creative process is truly amazing!
A powerful Puritan preacher and a storyteller, Bunyan had a knack for capturing fundamental human and spiritual truths in a character, in an incident, in a scene. His tale, “the similitude of a dream,” chronicles the spiritual journey of Christian from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. It is full of wisdom, warning, hope, guidance, and—most important—good news.
Why Pilgrim’s Progress?
Bunyan’s book is a good choice for three reasons:
First, it is a good story. It will hold your interest and the interest of your young children. The characters are strong, memorable, and realistic. And the arc of the plot is compelling. Even Huckleberry Finn liked this book: “I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough.” Bunyan’s style is plain and clear, and the idea of the book is a strong one from start to finish.
Second, it will teach you things you might not know. Not facts, but insights about human nature and the spiritual life. In Mere Christianity (III,2), C. S. Lewis put it this way:
Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.
Third, the book is a classic. Jacques Barzun says that classic works have three qualities: thickness, adaptability, and publicness. Bunyan’s work is dense enough to serve as an allegory of the Christian’s entire spiritual life; its adaptability is evident in the way it carries forward a rich tradition that goes back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and is itself carried forward in future works like Alcott’s Little Women; and its public nature is clear from the fact that it has been translated into about two hundred languages. Trinity students should graduate knowing what Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond are.
For our youngest readers, Oliver Hunkin’s retelling in Dangerous Journey is an accessible and reliable abridgement with compelling illustrations. Trinity’s summer library cart in the Lower School entrance will have a number of copies of this version, which families can check out for a week at a time.
John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress offers a superb original retelling of Bunyan’s beloved classic, masterfully illustrated with fifty dramatic watercolors by Barry Moser.
For older Lower School readers, Little Pilgrim’s Progress has simplified vocabulary and concepts for younger readers, while keeping the story line intact. The result is a classic for youth, a delightful book with a message they can understand.
For those older members of our community who have never read the book and want a shorter experience, we recommend the Trinity Forum’s abridged version, with a fine introduction by Alonzo McDonald and discussion questions. You can order a hard copy or download a PDF yourself here, or email Molly Pasca and she will send you a PDF for a charge of $3 to your Trinity account.
For those who want to read the whole book, unabridged, we suggest two options:
This free online version was recently published by Desiring God and is available in several formats.
The Penguin Classics edition has a chronology and extensive introduction. It also includes Part II of the book (the story of Christian’s wife), which we are not reading this summer.
Summer Reading Lists
Lower School Summer Reading
LS Suggested Summer Reading List (includes a Suggested Reading List for Parents)
LS Books to Build Bridges
Pilgrim's Progress Information
Middle School Summer Reading
In addition to participating in Trinity Views, Middle School students should read one of the following books as assigned:
- Grade 7: The Light in the Forest, by Conrad Richter
- Grade 8: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
We do not ask students to write anything about these books over the summer, but students should come to school ready to discuss and write about these books onthe first day of school.
We also encourage Middle School students to read a variety of books that may include some books from Trinity’s MS Suggested Summer Reading List. This is for sheer enjoyment and the pleasure of reading.
MS Suggested Summer Reading List
Upper School Summer Reading
In addition to reading the Trinity Reads book, Upper School students are required to read one other book over the summer as specified below. (If an ISBN is specified, the teacher has requested that students read that edition.)
- Grade 9 Humanities: Watership Down, by Richard Adams (ISBN: 9780743277709).
- Grade 10 Humanities: Quo Vadis, by Henryk Sienkiewicz, translated by W. S. Kuniczak (ISBN: 0781805503).
- Grade 11 Humanities: My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok (ISBN: 9781400031047).
- Grade 12 English: The two fall semester English classes are listed below. In June, senior families will learn which class their student is enrolled in for the fall semester.
**The Literature of C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis (ISBN: 9780060652937).
**The Literature of War: "Storm in June" in Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (ISBN 1400096278): Students need to read only the first 192 pages.
**The Literature of Modernism: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (ISBN-10: 1503262421; ISBN-13: 978-1503262423): Students must complete this reading before the first day of class.
We do not ask students to write anything about these books over the summer, but students should come prepared to discuss and write about these books on the first day of regular classes. These books are readily available at book stores.
In addition to this, Upper School students are encouraged to read a variety of books that may include some books from Trinity’s US Suggested Summer Reading List. This is for sheer enjoyment and the pleasure of reading.
US Suggested Summer Reading List