After finishing quite a few chapter books about horses, dogs, and other things that miniature farmers love, I had something new planned for our evening reading. Actually it’s only new to the younger crop of children; the older ones remember the last time I read this treasured series aloud to the family.
Usually these days the elder daughters are buried deep in their own chosen reading, while the three younger children fight for the place of honor on my lap. We sit in a heap of blankets and stuffed animals on the battered old couch, and for the first time these little ones encounter the favorite stories that their older sisters have already heard.
So when my son (only just reading himself) asked what we were going to read next, I wasn’t surprised that he couldn’t find the big golden volume that I sent him to fetch. It hadn’t been too long since we’d read it last, but he was small and wouldn’t remember. After some scuffling his sister (and self-appointed family librarian) stuck her head round the corner and inquired what he was supposed to be looking for. At the name her eyes widened and she immediately brought it to me with a reverent hush.
I opened up that weighty tome – held together with packing tape – to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; I like first-time readers to discover Narnia with the Pevensie children, as Lewis himself did. Something about Christmas coming made me decide that it was time to share this enchanted place afresh. Certainly, when my listeners heard that it was “always winter and never Christmas”, their eyes grew wide with horror.
Narnia is like a second home, but I had forgotten how much I love the dedication to this first book to be published in the series. It struck me in a new way, as all my own children have grown so much since last we embarked on this journey.
“I love this,” my little librarian whispered. I glanced across the tousled heads at her. “Aren’t you reading Marguerite Henry?” I asked. She replied, “Yes, but… I want to read Narnia with you.”
Whether you’re a mother like me or a godfather like Lewis, share literature with the children you love. They need to be properly armed for the great battles of life.