Since the publication of The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, in 1950 (and the subsequent releases of the following six books of The Chronicles Of Narnia between then and 1956), C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s fantasy series has remained in print continuously. It is a testament to the popularity of the series that if you were to stop a hundred random people on the street today and ask them to name any children’s fantasy book series, chances are good that most would mention The Chronicles Of Narnia. So what is the reason for the enduring popularity of C.S. Lewis’ most famous work?
If you think about childhood it is the period of life in which imaginations are most fertile; a time wherein we as children are able to enjoy and revel in the make-believe without having to consciously suspend our disbelief. This is unquestionably at the heart of The Chronicles Of Narnia’s allure. Reading Lewis’ tales during childhood is a magical experience in every way, and young readers are certainly the most receptive to what the books have to offer. How many children can resist the idea of being taken to an imaginary world populated with mythical beings and talking animals? How many dream of engaging in heroic adventures; of being princes or princesses? Very few I’d wager. After all, childhood is the time when we so much want these things to be as real as the world around us.
On a personal note, I first read The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, as a seven year old child way back in 1984, and upon finishing it I immediately went to my bedroom wardrobe, stepped inside and checked the back to see if I could get to Narnia. I don’t believe for a moment I’m the first or only child to ever do this, and I know with certainty I’m not the last person who will ever attempt to reach Narnia via a wardrobe.
These are stories that leave an indelible mark, and once read, stay with you for a lifetime. Even into adulthood people retain their love for the books, and invariably that love gets passed on to the next generation by parents who want their own children to experience the same magic that enchanted them.
Another reason why The Chronicles Of Narnia retains its appeal to generation after generation of readers is that the young protagonists of the books are just ordinary people. There is nothing inherently special about the Pevensie children, for example. They do not possess super powers or magical abilities; they are just like us. This makes the characters relatable, allowing young children to read their adventures and imagine that they can be just like them. That they, too, can be thrown into extraordinary situations and get to experience magical escapades.
Childhood is very much a time of innocence; a brief period in life when the young remain blissfully unaware of the more unpleasant aspects of the world we live in. One of the more pleasant attractions of the series is that at their core Lewis’s stories are about good always triumphing over evil. While adulthood allows us to observe that this is rarely the case in the real world, children should be allowed to believe this illusion when they are young. There is more than enough time for them to learn and accept the harsh reality once they come of age. Until then let them enjoy the never-ending magic of The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Thanks for reading,