The Chronicles of Narnia was introduced to the world in 1950 by way of the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Most people agree that was a very good thing. The series has sold over 100 million copies and has been translated into 47 languages. Also, very good things. Yet, there are still many who have never read the series. We think that is not a good thing. So, we decided to come up with five reasons why you should read The Chronicles of Narnia. And to be clear, these apply to you even if you have read the series. It’s never a bad thing to go back to Narnia for a second, or third, adventure. So, dear friends, “come further up, come further in!”
Theological Symbolism by Ben Plunkett
There are actually many reasons The Chronicles of Narnia should be read. It is excellent literature with amazing characterization, plotting, pacing, dialogue, humor, and at least a dozen other things.
But, I want to highlight what I believe is the most well-done thing which is the beautiful theological symbolism throughout all seven books. That’s right all seven. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe gets a lot of attention for its theological symbolism which depicts the life, the ultimate sacrifice of death, and resurrection of Christ and how those things affected man. Don’t get me wrong. That earthly work of Christ is the center of our faith and the symbolism of that book definitely deserves that attention. However, the beautiful and very poignant biblical symbology throughout all six of the other works should not be ignored. Throughout you will find exemplified such theological concepts as original sin, revival, divine forgiveness, forgiving other people, God’s wise working in each individual life, the mystery of faith, and even concepts involved in the end times.
This is not an exhaustive list. Just some off the top of my head. And it is no surprise the lion Aslan has a key role in most of it since he is representative of the many faces and complexities of God. All the concepts are so brilliantly related. I picture Lewis sitting beside his fireplace for hours deciding how best to help children (and adults) understand the many crucial ideas of Scripture.
The Great Lion Aslan by Mike Lytle
One of my favorite things about the Chronicles of Narnia is how Lewis provides a compelling image of the person of Jesus Christ through the great lion Aslan. Historians have told us about who Jesus was. Theologians have explained the significance of what Jesus did. This is all-important, but to many Jesus remains somewhat detached. Lewis, being informed by Scripture, gives us a vibrant picture through the character of Aslan. We see the majesty and glory as well as the kindness and gentleness.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this depiction was so great. Maybe Lewis’s experiences in losing his mother at a young age or brutality he faced as a soldier in World War I gave him a deeper perspective most of us don’t have. Maybe coming to faith later in life allowed him to think about Jesus differently than most believers. Perhaps making the character a lion instead of a man or a spirit made all the difference. Or maybe it was simply Lewis’s superior skill as a writer. Whatever the reason I am thankful for it. I leave you with an early exchange about Aslan from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
For the Kids by Brandon Atwood
You should read The Chronicles of Narnia because your kids should read it. My 10-year-old son came home excited about a school project several weeks ago. His instructions were to make a Chronicles of Narnia diorama. He doesn’t normally get excited about homework! However, the story of Narnia is popular in our house. I read the books to the boys in the last few years. My parents read them to me. We’ve seen the movies. We’ve talked about how Aslan represents Jesus. It is a story that has captured all our imaginations. We can see ourselves in the characters of Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy. We can picture in our minds the cold winter of the White Witch, and we laugh at the antics of the beavers. The mystery and imagery of the Stone Table have marked our memories.
Back to the school project.
My son normally wants to play outside or play video games. Where we live, we have long winters of our own that seem like they might never end which makes it harder for my kids. So we have to come up with other things for them to do. I believe teaching kids how to appreciate a good story is a vital part of parenting. That’s why I think you should read these books. They will give you a great story that you can pass down to your kids to foster their imaginations. I don’t want my kids to only see the utilitarian world around them and think that’s all there is. Our children have been made in the image of God and have the ability to create like their Creator. Stories like Narnia help our children learn how to pursue awe and wonder.
My son made a diorama of The White Witch in her sleigh. He carefully cut out the pieces from cardboard and painted them. He molded the deer pulling her sleigh from clay, and he drew trees and snow in the background. All from his imagination. His eyes were wide in creativity and imagination. That doesn’t come from a video game or youtube video. There is something special that happens when a child hears a good story.
Lack of Continuity by Gowdy Cannon
You should read The Chronicles of Narnia because it does something similar fantasy epics do not–it tells a marvelous, timeless cohesive story over several installments, but with the main characters constantly changing. I find this impressive for numerous reasons. The most obvious is that readers tend to appreciate continuity but Lewis rejects it, at least in part. And yet the story never loses momentum and the reader never loses interest. Narnia itself is enough, though Aslan making regular (albeit at times very brief) appearances does help. The people absolutely matter but the place reigns supreme, being transfixed until the very end.
So while other classics focus on a small group of heroes that we journey with from start to finish, Narnia bucks that trend. But it still earns its place alongside the classic of classics. That is how good the plots within this fictional world are.
Characters Matter by Phill Lytle
You should read The Chronicles of Narnia because _______.
Honestly, I could come up with dozens of reasons to fill that blank, many of which have been mentioned by my fellow Rambling Ever On writers: The theological depth. Aslan! How fun it is to share them with your children. And on and on…
I thought about getting really spiritual sounding and discussing the soteriological completeness of the series – from pre-Creation to the ending of the world. Salvation and redemption wind their way throughout the stories. Perhaps that is best reserved for a future article.
After much deliberation, I finally landed on the thing that kept coming back to me: The characters. Lewis created dozens of iconic characters with his seven-book masterpiece. Of course, there is Aslan, but he is not the only character we come to love. Lewis generously populates Narnia with unforgettable characters like Reepicheep the brave mouse, Mr. Tumnus the faun, Trufflehunter the badger, Trumpkin the dwarf, Hwin and Bree the noble horses, Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children, Jill and Eustace, and so many more. Who could ever forget a character as fascinating and hilariously pessimistic as Puddleglum the Marshwiggle? And that’s just the heroes of the stories; the villains are nearly as memorable and in some ways even more iconic. Look no further than The White Witch.
One sign of a great writer is their ability to create and develop varied and complex characters. Lewis takes a back seat to no one in this regard. Beyond all the other great reasons to read these wonderful books, the characters alone will pull you back again and again.
Just as we have mentioned a few times, these are only five of the numerous reasons you should read this wonderful series. Even so, we think these are enough to convince just about anyone. One final thought. When you decide to read it, please read the books in the published order and not the chronological order. Just trust us, it’s better that way. Maybe we’ll do a Five on that topic down the road…