It’s Narnia Week here at Hope Is the Word, and in honor of this and Carrie‘s Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge, I put my misgivings aside and introduced my girls, ages 5 and 3 2/3, to Narnia over the past week and a half. We completed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on Tuesday of this week. I had put off starting this particular book as a read-aloud because of the scary elements in it: a witch; all kinds of mythical creatures, some of which I can’t even identify; Aslan’s death; battle scenes; etc. I wasn’t sure how I would explain much of it (or even if I should), and Lulu has been known to reject even picture books outright (as in pushing them out of my hands in the middle of reading) if she finds them too intense. Yes, we have some sensitivity issues. 🙂 It turns out that my worries were completely unnecessary. My girls LOVED Narnia. In fact, Laura and Mary have been replaced here at the House of Hope by Susan and Lucy. 🙂
One of the reasons we were able to read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe without abridging it or abandoning it altogether is because the girls had already been exposed to it through a few books excerpted from The World of Narnia Collection that we got from Chic-Fil-A kids’ meals. Lulu even said as much. We were reading about Edmund and the White Witch one day when she said, “I’m not afraid of this chapter because we read that picture book about it.” Score! This really laid to rest my hesitation about “dumbing down” stories by using abridgements and really confirmed that same concept which is espoused in The Well-Trained Mind. Carrie highlighted The World of Narnia Collection in this Read Aloud Thursday post a couple of weeks ago, and she also includes a few pictures of the book covers (which I have been unable to do thanks to my cantankerous computer). This also gives me the courage to go forward with our reading aloud of heftier titles. I have really been stymied when it comes to finding stories that aren’t “too” something–scary, intense, etc. Now I know that my girls can handle it, at least with a little preparation. I came across a quote in Roar!: A Christian Family Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia (read my thoughts on this resource here) that sums up this whole dilemma very nicely. The quote, which follows, is from his essay entitled “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”:
Those who say that children must not be frightened mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless. . . Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them, but not if they mean the second.
Wise man, that Jack Lewis.
Putting aside all this child psychology, I just have to say that reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe aloud to my children brought me more joy than any other book we’ve read together thus far. I do love this story, and to see the enraptured look on Lulu’s face (I think Louise’s attention span is still a little short for her to be completely enraptured by a story 😉 ) as she listened was simply beautiful. I kept thinking to myself as we read, “I wouldn’t give ANY amount of money for this experience!” 🙂 That’s a happy mama moment, for sure. My girls have begged over and over again to watch the Steven Curtis Chapman video that Carrie posted on her blog a few weeks ago, and of course, I’ve complied. It’s so sweet to hear their little voices shout, “It’s Aslan!” when they see him at the end of the video like he’s the best thing they’ve seen all day. Of course, He is! 🙂 In honor of them, I want to publicly thank Carrie for introducing me to SCC via YouTube and put that video on my blog here where we can easily find it. 🙂
While we won’t be watching the movie any time soon, this little video shows just enough to both satisfy and whet the appetite, doesn’t it?
I have a feeling we’re not through with Narnia. Lulu saw The Magician’s Nephew on my nightstand a few days ago and asked me about it. When I told her it is one of the Chronicles of Narnia, she said in a voice full of excitement, “Narnia?!?!?” Yes, Lulu, Narnia. I’m so glad you enjoyed your inaugural visit.
“Higher up and further in!”
Oh, excuse me–this is Read Aloud Thursday, isn’t it? I just about got carried away. Do share with us what you’ve been enjoying together as a family, Narnia-related or not. 😉 Leave a comment or a blog link so we can all add new read aloud titles to our TBR lists! And don’t forget that all comments on posts featuring the Narnia Challenge button will be eligible to win a beautiful Narnia resource which I shall reveal on Friday! (For a sneak peek, go here.)