I received this book as a gift and I’m reviewing of my own volition. Now you — and the FCC — know.
We’ve been using Tapestry of Grace as our history program in our homeschool for five, going on six, years now. I am a huge fan of literature, historical fiction, biographies, and source material when it comes to studying history with kids. They develop higher reading and thinking skills, learn what it was really like to live in a given period of time, and – with a structured program–like Tapestry of Grace–they understand history in context.
Source materials are wonderful because they tell the story from a given point in time, from an influential viewpoint. Take William Bradford’s journal of the Separatist situation in England and the Netherlands, the Mayflower journey, and his time as governor in America. What an important story!….
Yet, 17th century writing is really, really hard to interpret. Spelling rules? Pshaw. They didn’t need those. Modern language? It hadn’t been invented yet.
I’ll give you an example, straight from Bradford’s journal:
It is well knowne unto ye godly and judicious, how ever since ye first breaking out of ye lighte of ye gospel in our Honourable Nation of England, (which was ye first of nations whom ye Lord adorned ther with, after yt grosse darknes of popery which had covered & overspred ye Christian worled,) what wars & opposissions ever since, Satan hath raised, maintained, and continued against the Saincts, from time to time, in one sorte or other. Some times by bloody death and cruell torments; other whiles imprisonments, banishments, & other hard usages; as being loath his kingdom should goe downe, the trueth prevaile, and ye churches of God reverte to their ancient puritie, and recover their primitive order, libertie, & bewtie.~ (The whole first chapter is one giant paragraph.) Page 145-146, Plymouth Pilgrim
It hurt me to type that. Now check out the way Donald W. White has revised this passage into modern English for A Plymouth Pilgrim (2015):
This we all know–Satan has continued to war against God’s people in England, and it has been happening ever since the true Christian gospel burst forth in our nation.
Ours was the first nation the Lord adorned with that True Light since the darkness of Catholicism covered the Christian world. Bloody deaths, torture, prison, and banishment have been Satan’s tactics for fear his kingdom would fail and truth prevail as churches of God return to their ancient purity, order, liberty, and beauty.
See what I mean? The second version is a whole lot more fun to read.
Despite his appalling spelling (bewtie?) and run-on sentences, William Bradford tells an important and compelling story of adventure, danger, and heartbreak. I’m a fan of understanding Christian history from all over the world, and this particular story is central to the birth of the American nation. The world will tell your students a tale about how America came to be and the role religion played (or didn’t-depending on the storyteller); let William Bradford give them his perspective.
Donald W. White has not just updated and adapted Bradford’s journal. He’s shortened it to cover just up through the first year of the pilgrim’s time in America (adding important details from other sources where necessary). There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter that may be of interest to your family. The book is illustrated by Mr. White’s amazing pen and ink drawings (seriously, he should illustrate all youth books everywhere), and nicely formatted for youth.
Mr. White is a graduate of Pepperdine University and Abilene Christian University, and a retired pastor. He’s also a genuinely kind man who I look forward to seeing at writing conferences a few times a year.
I highly recommend A Plymouth Pilgrim for middle school and high school students. My boys will be reading the book this year as we study America’s beginnings, and I feel blessed to be able to use it as a part of their studies. I feel confident that they’ll be enthralled with the story.
A Plymouth Pilgrim would coordinate well with studies involving
- The Plymouth Pilgrims and the crossing of the Mayflower
- The 17th Century (1607-1621)
- The Reformation
- William Bradford
- The American Colonies
You can find A Plymouth Pilgrim at
Other books for older students reviewed on Thinking Kids:
- When Lighting Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther by … me
- God’s Story: A Student’s Guide to Church History by Brian Cosby
- Water the Earth: A Student’s Guide to Missions by Aaron Little
- Rebels Rescued: A Student’s Guide to Reformed Theology by Brian Cosby
- Bitesize Theology: An ABC of Christian Faith by Peter Jeffrey
- Questions God Asks by Israel Wayne
- Grace Works! (And Ways We Think It Doesn’t) by Douglas Bond
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- Christian Books about Parenting
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.