For many of you this is a no-brainer. Narnia is a classic, C. S. Lewis is a legend, and with the recent film adaptations there is more attention to this series than ever before. But one thing I’ve learned is to never assume that EVERYONE knows ALL the best books out there, so here goes.
There are three different arrangements of the Chronicles of Narnia: the Published order, Chronological order, and the order in which they were written. For sake of consistency we’ll go with the Published order, and so let’s begin with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with C. S. Lewis’s works and stances on life and faith, I suggest you check out Mere Christianity, which is perhaps the best book ever written on the fundamentals of Christianity. Narnia is also one of the greatest Fantasy series to tackle faith, as it is filled with Biblical symbolisms. Lewis noted that kids often picked up on the symbolisms more than adults, so we gotta show those youngsters that we can still think creatively 😉
Peter (13), Susan (12), Edmund (10) and Lucy (8), are evacuated from London to escape the effects of WW2. They go to the home of Professor Digory Kirke, who owns a huge country house and lives with his housekeeper, Mrs MacReady.
Lucy discovers that a mysterious wardrobe is actually a portal to another world called Narnia. She meets a talking faun named Tumnus and learns of the White Witch, who made it always winter but never Christmas. No one believes Lucy on her return, but one day Edmund and her end up in Narnia after hiding in the wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek. Edmund is deceived by the White Witch and betrays his siblings once they all find their way to the world of Narnia.
Meeting up with the Beaver family, the children learn about the fate of Tumnus and the goings on in Narnia. They find out about a prophecy and Aslan (The Great Lion), who is said to be on the move. They eventually meet up with him, and when Edmund is rescued, the White Witch demands his return. According to the ancient law (the “Deep magic”) she has the right to do so, but instead of handing over Edmund, Aslan takes his place to die for the boy’s guilt. This isn’t the end of the Great Lion, as a final battle takes place and the prophecy is fulfilled.
When I was little, my mother read me this story and I absolutely loved it. Unlike some of the other books my mother had read, I still like this one as much today as I did back then. Ironically, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is one of the books in this series I liked the least, but it still marks the beginning of a wonderful magical world, and a journey that every kid should experience. If you have never read them or have not let your children do so, then go out immediately and pickup a copy now!
Things to consider:
There are some violent scenes, and the death of Aslan may be disturbing to some children, but I would say this is great for preteen (tweens) + and for both girls and boys.
Opportunities for discussion:
There are a lot of items in this book that you could use for discussion points with your kids. However, the most powerful of them all is sacrifice. Edmond turned away and followed the evil White Witch, but rather than condemn him, Aslan (who is the symbolic figure of Christ) trades his life for the boy’s and undergoes a horrible death in the face of his enemies. Perhaps one of the best fictional re-tellings of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, this ultimately shows us the forgiveness we have for our own lives. Very powerful and very helpful for getting children to understand the truths behind Christianity.