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Bob Jones’s reading program is very well developed. Not only are there traditional textbook readers for all the elementary grades, there are a number of supplemental chapter-book readers by various authors and in various genres to expand kids’ abilities and heighten their interest in reading. The Journey Books series and accompanying Booklinks study guides provide wholesome reading material for students not quite ready to delve into more mature fiction.
How Do These Work?
Journey Books are intended for students grades 1-6, with a wide range of titles for each grade level. Each is written from a distinctly Christian perspective, with virtue praised and evil shown for what it is. Genres represented include mysteries, westerns, biographies, historical fiction, fantasy, dog and horse stories, and family/coming-of-age stories.
The majority of these books were written by BJU staff members specifically for this series. The fundamentalist Baptist attitude is usually present, but equally as often it isn’t intrusive or too heavy-handed. Each volume is about 80-200 pages long, without illustrations, and divided into manageable chapters according to grade level. Plots are engaging and involve young characters students can relate to.
As supplemental guides, Booklinks are like miniature unit studies for specific texts in the Journey Books series. Booklinks are published independently of Journey Books, so they don’t exist for all titles, only for those proven to be popular sellers or for books their Reading Program suggests. Each Journey text can stand alone, so the Booklinks are by no means necessary, though they can offer a lot of helpful background information as well as encouraging reluctant readers to get into the stories and comprehend what they read.
- Buttercup Hill
- Looking for Home
- Once in Blueberry Dell
- Carolina's Courage
- Pulling Together
- Treasure of Pelican Cove
- Case of the Dognapped Cat
- Jenny Wren
- These Are My People
- Mountain Born
- Sherriff at Waterstop
- Secret of the Golden Cowrie
- Arby Jenkins, Mighty Mustang
- A Father's Promise
- Trouble at Silver Pines Inn
The Booklinks texts are reproducible, so you can use them with multiple students. They include historical information pertinent to the text being read, discussion questions, interdisciplinary material (music, science, etc.), and hands-on activities. Many of the activities are intended to give students an idea of what life was like in a different era or part of the world. Careful attention is also paid to character-building and Christian virtue.
Other than the biographies, none of the Journey Books are particularly educational beyond improving a student’s reading skills. The Booklinks expand kids’ reading time beyond fun stories and show how all the academic (and some non-academic) disciplines interrelate.
Our Honest Opinion:
A lot of parents just have their kids read great books suitable for their age and reading level, and that seems like a good idea to us. However, if you want them to have readers and not have to worry about content, these will do. Many of the titles are just standard Christian fiction for elementary kids, though some of them end up being genuinely good literature (A Father’s Promise and In Search of Honor by Donna Lynn Hess come to mind). And while the Booklinks aren’t as strong on vocabulary and language skills as the Progeny Press guides, they cover a variety of other material many study guides leave out.
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