By the Way is a fun and fact-filled series of books written by author Joy Budensiek. We have been enjoying one of the four newest books in the By the Way Book Series as we think about planning a trip before too long. Indiana ~ By The Way is the book we have been enjoying. The other new ones include New York City, Alaska, and Ireland. There are currently 10 books in this series.
Joy Budensiek began writing these books to help families have an interesting and fun way to discuss spiritual truths in everyday life. After hearing the startling fact that most Christian families do not intentionally discuss God’s hand in every day life, she created this series to lend a hand and lead the way for families. These geographically based books help parents teach a Christian worldview through a bright and exciting children’s book.
Each of the books in the series is a hard-back book that is printed in full color. It contains pictures of the actual places and animals discussed, as well as drawings and other images to illustrate other ideas or things. The reading level is upper elementary and the book is about 50 page long. Each page is packed and we would read about 6 or 8 pages in a sitting. This allowed us to discuss ideas and talk about things that interested us. More than once, while I was reading aloud to Miss J (age 9), one or both of the older girls would come look at what we were reading about. Often, we ended up at the computer, looking at the places on a map or reading more about the place mentioned.
By the Way tells the stories of two children who explore the world around them, wherever they end up. Alex and Lexi find themselves immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s hand in the world around them. In the book about Indiana, they are visiting family at Thanksgiving. Their family explores the state and finds a lot of interesting places to visit, things to learn, and animals to see.
Some of the fun facts that we learned while reading this book:
- There are quite a few covered bridges in Indiana. And, we hope to see some when we end up visiting that state.
- There is a lot of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies (Miss L’s favorite), cardinals (Miss J’s favorite), bats (reminding Miss E of a visit to a cave a year or so ago), deer, lots of other birds (more of Miss J’s favorites), bears, rabbits, and many, many more.
- There are sand dunes! We know sand dunes from White Sands so it was interesting to learn more.
- This state borders Lake Michigan and is MUCH smaller than Texas.
- There are large Amish communities in the state. This was really appealing to Miss E and Miss J since it relates so well to another book series they are reading about a young Amish girl.
These are just the tip of the iceberg with what you will learn about Indiana in this book. It is so easy to extend this type of learning. Marking a map, adding additional animal research or sketching, creating artwork related to themes and ideas, looking up more on the plants mentioned (orchids!) and trying to grow them – the possibilities are as varied as your own imagination.
As wonderful as all of this learning about Indiana is, there is something much better woven throughout the story and the pages of this book – God’s hand in nature and life. Intentionally looking for ways to help the reader see God’s hand, Bible verses are woven into the story and into the lives of the characters. One of these places is when talking about the beauty of the changing leaves in fall and Psalm 90:2 is quoted. Another example is when they are talking about caves and bats. I John 1:5 is brought up. In the discussion about Thanksgiving and its history, James 1:17 is quoted to remind us that God gives so many good gifts.
In addition to this, the discussion between the adults and the children in the story models well how to intentionally bring up God’s plan, His hand, and His wonderful creation in every day discussions. Finding life lessons from God is modeled well in this series of books. In Indiana, we see this when having a thankful heart is taught. We see it when they are teaching about the Amish and they mention “Family and faith are most important to them. Anything which threatens these is rejected.” (p. 35) Billy Sunday is discussed and the adults teach the children about the worth of salvation in contrast to the salary he gave up. They also model this idea with nature – the animals are so perfectly created that the butterflies know exactly when to migrate, the bats know how to hunt, the farms are blessed by the rain and sunshine, and the variety of trees that exist.
This modeling is wonderful and reminds us of the important things in life. The By the Way series is fantastic at not only teaching about interesting places but in teaching about God’s perfect creation and our lives in it. Indiana is another fun book in this series. Want to know about more? We reviewed Colorado previously on the blog and have read the Washington book, also.