When I was little, I loved the Chronicles of Narnia series. I had a box set and read them all. I didn’t remember much about them, other than that I loved their dark, mysterious stories, when I decided to pick up the first one, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to read to my 6 year-old son. He’s a bit younger than I was when I read them (I read them to myself) but we’re in the chapter book phase now and I thought he might like them.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is about four siblings, Peter, Lucy, Susan and Edmund, who are evacuated from London during WWII and sent to live with a professor in the countryside. Bored, they spend their days exploring the professor’s big house. One day, the youngest, Lucy, hides in a large wardrobe and finds herself transported to a magical, snowy land called Narnia. When she returns to the wardrobe, no time has passed in real life and her siblings do not believe her. But soon, her brother Edmund also ends up in Narnia, and before long all of them have gone through the magic wardrobe.
Narnia is under the spell of a wicked witch, who has imposed permanent winter across the land. The spell can only be unbroken when four humans come to Narnia and sit on thrones in the castle. When the kids end up in Narnia together, Edmund is captured by the witch, while the others try to liberate Narnia with the help of a noble lion-king, Aslan.
I enjoyed revisiting Narnia and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It feels just a bit dated, from the British slang to some of the comments about girls, but the book sparked my dormant sense of wonder at fantasy stories about faraway lands. (I don’t read much of that anymore.) I also recognized the Christian imagery, for which C.S. Lewis is famous, much more this time around. It was pretty much lost on me as a child.
Here’s what my six year-old had to say: “It was interesting. I liked what happened in the end. It wasn’t boring. I was worried about what was going to happen to the characters.”
I found some of the book a little scary for a six year-old (one of the characters is captured and treated as a prisoner; Aslan is killed; there is a lot of description of battles and casualties) but it didn’t seem to bother my son.
There are good themes for kids here: loyalty to your family; triumph of good over bad.
We’re going to start the next book in the series soon.