To start off our event, here are some discussion questions for The Chronicles of Narnia series in general. Feel free to post your answers on your own blog at any time or comment below!
- Do you think The Chronicles of Narnia should first be read chronologically or by date of publication?
- What do you think the Christian elements add or detract from the series?
- Do you think it is important for children’s books to have more humor than this series?
- Who are your favorite characters from the series and why?
1. Do you think The Chronicles of Narnia should first be read chronologically or by date of publication?
I was first introduced to the series when my third grade teacher read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my class. I fell in love and obsessively read and reread the series for at least the following year. I may be biased because of that, but I have since concluded that beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe does make sense. It is a more immediately gripping and interesting story than The Magician’s Nephew in my (and many readers’ opinions) and therefore a better tactic for getting new readers to like the series. The Magician’s Nephew is also more interesting in retrospect, as readers can see details like the origins of the infamous lamppost and think, “Oh, so that’s how that got there!”
2. What do you think the Christian elements add or detract from the series?
When I initially read the series as a child, I did not notice the books were Christian allegory—and this certainly was not due to an ignorance of Christian teaching on my part—so I can personally see no argument that the Christianity takes something away from the books. They’re good, adventurous stories.
In defense of the allegory, however, I do think it is worth something that C. S. Lewis was invested in putting what he saw as truth into his books. Great books are always something in which the authors truly believe, and they contain things the authors think are important. Lewis’s commitment to Christianity, I think, is part of what gives Narnia lots of heart. And, to be honest, Christianity is full of great stories, even if one is a non-believer, so they are interesting reworked into fantasy, as well.
3. Do you think it is important for children’s books to have more humor than this series?
It never even occurred to me that The Chronicles of Narnia were not funny until I read a few pieces of literary criticism that took a huge issue with its lack. Apparently, children are just not drawn into books that are funny, or books that do not crack jokes are too serious for them to handle. Either way, I do not think Narnia is suffering from its lack of humor; I loved the books as a child and continue to do so now. Also, books that try intentionally and often to be funny run the risk of alienating readers who have different senses of humor from the author.
4. Who are your favorite characters from The Chronicles of Narnia and why?
I was always a fan of Lucy as a child. She’s the youngest, the underdog who is generally right and generally good, but no one believes it of her. What child wouldn’t identify with that?
I also love Reepicheep, however, for being a fantastic combination of bravery, nobility, and cuteness. He has some of the most quotable lines, as well.