The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was written by C. S. Lewis. Although I grew up reading voraciously, I did not discover Lewis’s children’s books until I was in college. Instantly captivated, I devoured all The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) was the first of the series of seven books to debut, although The Magician’s Nephew comes first chronologically in the plot’s timeline.

Set in World War II England, this story begins when four siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are sent to the countryside to escape the threat of London air-raids. They are housed on an elderly professor’s estate. Their adventures begin when little Lucy, while exploring the vast house with Peter, Susan, and Edmund, steps into a wardrobe. Snuggling against rows of soft fur coats, she inexplicably stumbles into another world—the world of Narnia. Lucy finds herself in a snowy wood lit by a glowing lamppost beside which she surprises a faun, who soon becomes her friend.

Returning to the world of England with her tale of wonders, Lucy finds her sister and brothers don’t believe her, especially when they try the wardrobe and find nothing but coats. Edmund teases her, but later gets into Narnia himself. After meeting a white witch who calls herself the Queen of Narnia, Edmund is taken in by her magic and promises to bring his family to her.

When at last all four of the children enter Narnia together, they meet salt-of-the-earth Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who plan to introduce them to Aslan. The great lion Aslan, king over all, has recently returned to break the white witch’s grasp on his kingdom of Narnia. Ancient sayings promise that four human children will help overthrow the witch and then rule from four thrones in Aslan’s name. But Edmund doesn’t like this talk and sneaks off to join the enemy.

In a land of breathtaking scenery, castles, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the children are transformed. Aslan radiates power, but models wisdom, compassion, and courage. As the beavers say, “…he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Working together with their new friends, the children must secure peace for all.

This book is exceptional on so many levels. The children are different ages and have different personalities, yet each shows bravery and growth. Lucy’s pure heart leads the way. Peter becomes a noble leader. Susan is gentle and caring. Edmund learns humility and develops a heart that understands the value of both justice and mercy.

Lewis is a master of description. With simple, clear language, he sketches vivid scenes and memorable dialogue. Grand themes of self-sacrifice, forgiveness, atonement, love, and community are woven into an engrossing narrative that readers love to return to again and again.

There are many commentaries of the allegorical meanings in these stories—I will leave that for readers to judge.

If you want fresh, clean literature for young imaginations, I recommend The Chronicles of Narnia. Reading aloud is a good approach for the younger ages. Upper elementary children will enjoy reading them as chapter books. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, has end-of-the-world themes that may be too complex and sad for young readers. High school-aged kids will handle that volume better. My personal favorite book in the series is The Horse and His Boy.

Your local library, most bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com have The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It has also been made into audio books and movies. I recommend you read the books first. Among the audio books, though, my favorite is the Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre version. Of the movies, the one that is most like the books is the BBC version, but the 1980’s special effects will seem simple to the sophisticated child viewer of today.These books will leave a lasting, positive impression on readers’ minds. My children still quote them.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

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