Pennsylvania ~ Here we Come: A Review

“19 out of 20 Christian parents and grandparents do not talk to their

children about God and spiritual truths in their daily lives”

This quote literally changed Joy Budensiek’s life. Joy has spent her life teaching at various levels as well as serving and sharing the love of Christ. When she heard this statistic she asked several of her college students about their growing up experiences. Many of them confirmed that although they were raised in Christian homes and attended church, VBS, camps, and other things, they did not have many memories about being talked to about God in their every day lives. Stunned, Joy – through God’s guidance – set out on a mission to share a biblical world view to children by authoring a children’s book series she would call the By the Way Book Series.

Her goal is to educate children – and adults – on the history, culture and natural habitats of each of the 50 states in America through a biblical world view. Also included in the series will be various regions as well as a few countries. It is her hope that through following a journey of young children as they explore the state, region or country that she can enlighten others to the presence of God around them and how He speaks to mankind through His creation.

The Series

The By the Way Book Series currently includes: Pennsylvania ~ Here We Come, Ohio ~ Here We Come, Colorado ~ Here We Come, Washington ~ Here We Come, Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come and Florida’s Treasure Coast ~ Here We Come, each retailing for $14.99. Additional books coming soon include: Ireland, Indiana, New York and Idaho. Supplemental products (sold separately)  that are designed specifically for each book, including a full color poster, 8 trading cards, activity book and a stuffed animal are also available.

Our Experience with Pennsylvania ~ Here we Come

Naturally, when I was selected to participate in this review, I had a strong desire for us to learn about Colorado, where we live. My second choice was Pennsylvania, an area that I have never visited and one of the focal points of our homeschool this year as we continue our early American History studies. I got my second choice and have not been let down in the least. I fully expected that this book would be a typical fact-based book, filled with random facts throughout, but where it is hard to actually learn anything substantial because of the lack of framework tying anything together. However, this  book proved to be anything of the sort and was unlike any other fact-based books that we have perused over the years. I was delighted to see the story line of two young children that shared their journey throughout the state.

The book itself is a nice sized hardback children’s book that is small enough to tote around and fit on most bookshelves, yet large enough to enjoy the many colorful photos. We decided to read this 49 page book during our history studies as a supplement. We ended up spending the better part of a whole afternoon as the kids were engaged in the story and wanted to find out what was happening next! The next few days was spent recovering from an illness, which prevented me from reading the book to them. I guess they were not happy with that thought because one afternoon I found them snuggled together under The Boy’s loft bed with Bookworm Beauty reading the story aloud. This was a melt-my-heart-homeschool-moment. They even brought it in the truck with us that same afternoon when I had an errand to run, but did not start reading it aloud until after they filled me in on the details and Pennsylvania facts that I had missed out on.

The facts shared are stated in a memorable fashion, so much so that my children (ages 8, 6 and 11) are recalling them and discussing them at different times. We have learned about many standard state facts such as the state bird, but also about the Appalachian Trail, the Gettysburg battle, Punxsutawney’s big day (Groundhog Day) and many historical facts. There is also information about waterways (including the Lake Effect snow formation), agriculture and native species. The kids’ favorite facts are about the 50 ton, 12 foot wide concrete cross erected in Jumonville and the introduction to geocaching, which has sparked a new interest in this household. The kids are wanting to learn more about geocaching, create their own and search for other local ones.

The real treasure in this book is not the local and historical facts of Pennsylvania but rather the way that God and His plan for mankind is woven throughout the story. Our household is the 1 out of 20 in the opening statistic of this post. We speak of God and include Him in our daily conversations. We found this book full of scripture, mixed with state facts, weaving together a beautiful tapestry of Pennsylvania. For those that may be struggling with finding ways to include God in their daily conversations, this book may be a great introduction of how to do so.

We hope to read all of the books in the By the Way Book Series as part of our homeschool studies in the years to come. In the meantime, we will enjoy returning to the Pennsylvania ~ Here we Come book as a resource and are anxiously waiting for our  Colorado State book to arrive so that we can learn more about our beautiful state!

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