You should read the Chronicles of Narnia because they’re true
That’s why they resonate. Because they are echoes of what you know to be true.
They faithfully depict human nature— the good, the bad and the ugly— plus man’s relationship to God.
He sacrificed his life to redeem us. He protects and provides, leads, comforts and understands.
He transforms us, so that we are no longer stuck in the rut of what we once were.
Children will recognize a good story. Adults will be able to see the principles of truth.
Allegory and symbolism breaks down at some point. Fiction isn’t the best place to get your theology. But, some concepts are impossible for our finite minds to wrap around. So symbols work as well as anything.
Narnia is a good place to see examples of spiritual truths, to see it fleshed out in relationships and situations.
For example, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader contains one of my favorite scenes in all the books.
Eustace Scrubb undergoes a transformation. He’s been turned into a dragon, but his heart and actions were very dragon like before.
Then he encounters Aslan and has a change of heart. When it’s time to shed his dragon skin, he finds he can’t do it by himself.
It takes the sharp claws of Aslan the Lion digging deep and painfully to remove the dragon flesh from his body.
Isn’t that powerful? Isn’t that true?
Read them for inspiration, hope and courage
One of the great gifts of story is the ability to walk in a character’s shoes, to feel his pain and struggle and then rejoice with him in his victory.
Another great gift is to borrow courage from another’s story— fictional or not— and apply it to your own life.
All the greatest fiction is ultimately true. Which is why we resonate with it and why it touches us at the deepest level.
Hope is one of human’s greatest needs. We can’t go on without it.
It can be easy to lose our hope.
Restoring hope to our lives becomes critical, life saving.
Read them to get lost in a great story
Part of the magic of Narnia is what all great stories have in common— the ability to be transported from the here and now to another time and place. A chance to live vicariously through the lives of characters on a page. They don’t have to be real to be true. They don’t even have to be human.
But when we connect emotionally and can imagine the world and the problems of our characters, we transcend our daily grind and immerse ourselves in their world.
Through the magic of story, we feel like we’ve been to Narnia, too, and we can’t wait to go back.
Best of all, in Narnia, good wins, justice prevails and the story ends happily ever after. That’s heaven, isn’t it? What we’re all longing for.
Why Should I Read The Chronicles of Narnia?
- Because they’re true
- For inspiration, hope and courage
- To get lost in a great story
- To encounter your deepest longings
- To share with the next generation
Read them to encounter your own deepest longings
C.S.Lewis is a master storyteller. Somehow he was able to tap into the deepest longings of the human heart.
He understood sibling rivalry. He knew what it was like to want to rule your own kingdom and have all the power for yourself and not share it with your brother.
He understood simple things like the frustration of leaving your flashlight on vacation.
He understood bigger things like the lust for power and wealth and the battle between good and evil.
Or the longing for a good, loving and powerful God to be in control.
The remorse, regret and shame when you screw up.
The desire for a perfect world and a longing for heaven
The desire for justice— that evil be punished and good rewarded
The loss of someone you love dearly.
So many complex human emotions and what drives us. He was able to articulate it all in story form.
Read them to share with the next generation
One of the geniuses of Lewis’ work is he’s able to tell amazing stories with an incredible economy of words.
Another genius is the ability to appeal to all ages.
The wisdom, truth and symbolism in the books is something that adults can appreciate. Kids love the stories and they are satisfying and compelling even without understanding the deeper meaning.
Layered meaning means that there is something for everyone to appreciate and the books grow with you as you grow.
At different vantage places in life, you can appreciate different things.
At what age should you start reading The Chronicles of Narnia?
For independent readers, probably as soon as they can handle the reading level.
As a read aloud, Common Sense Media says age 8, but the average age for parents’ and kids’ recommendations is age 7.
I’ve seen some recommendations online for kids as early as 5.
I would agree with this.
Yes, there’s some violence in the books, some battles and aggressions referred to, but they are not graphic.
Certainly if you have a sensitive child, you should preview them for possible impact.
Which order is best to read The Chronicles of Narnia books?
There’s lots of discussion about which order to read the The Chronicles of Narnia and a lot of strong opinions.
There are seven books in the series. There’s a progression in the history of the fantasy land of Narnia, so reading them in order makes sense.
There’s little discussion or disagreement about most of them, but the disparity comes about which book to read first.
Publication order means starting with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Chronological order means starting with The Magician’s Nephew.
My recommendation on which to read first? Start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Read The Magician’s Nephew later as a prequel.
Aslan is introduced in Wardrobe the way that Lewis wanted him to be introduced, by reputation and rumor. The character of Aslan is revealed and the story of redemption laid out in a way that the first book can stand alone.
The Magician’s Nephew tells the story of the creation of Narnia, and in that sense, it’s first in chronological order. But the symbolism, imagery and backstory becomes clear when you look back. It won’t make as much sense starting with that book.
One book, The Horse and His Boy, is a story within the time frame of the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In that sense, it’s not possible to read completely in chronological order.
You also have to consider that this fantasy series includes some time travel in the sense that the characters transport between our world and the fantasy world. The progression of time is not parallel between the worlds, but random. Time passes more slowly or more rapidly in one than another.