Tuesday Tome Week 38 – The Silver Chair

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The Silver Chair did not seem very interesting to me at first. It took more than half the book to even understand the title. I felt confused by the whole layout of the land described and the Marsh-Wiggle called Puddleglum. (Uh, what’s a Marsh-Wiggle?)

The Silver Chair

The book begins with Eustace helping a school mate, Jill, while she is being chased by bullies. They both escape to Narnia just in time before the bullies get to Jill. Folks, this is 1950 and C.S. Lewis knew enough about schools in those days to put a bit of them in his books. The bullies today work just the same, if not worse.  Continue reading »

It made me realize there is a whole theme about education through Narnia. Peter complained about the school Edmund started attending. In fact, Peter claims the school Edmund started attending made Edmund a traitor and a liar.

Jill’s bullying in The Silver Chair makes me thankful we are able to homeschool and spare our children the grief. She attends an Experiment House where children can do what they want and teachers believe that if they just talk to the children with the right words, they can elicit the correct behavior. Sounds like the progressive education of the 21st century we see all around us, doesn’t it? Well, it all started 20 years before Narnia was published and so by the time Lewis wrote about it, it was developed enough to be analyzed and mocked by an intellectual of his caliber.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Professor wonders, “What DO they teach them in these schools?” when he realizes the children have no Logic principles. In yet another place, the question is repeated by another character.

The Christian overtones become very clear in The Silver Chair. Puddleglum sacrifices his health by stomping out the fire with his own foot in order to stop the witch’s spell. The children are given directions by Aslan, directions which must be memorized and obeyed (Scripture memorization?).

When they wonder what will happen if they do what Aslan told them to, Puddleglum reminds them that Aslan never told them what would happen. He just wanted their obedience. And as long as you listen to his words and trust they are the best for you, you will have done your duty.

Prince Rilian is tied to a silver chair when he comes back to his right mind, so that he may not escape from the Underworld. Reality and fantasy blend and become very confusing. The children don’t know if they should release him or not, because he is a totally different person when his “fit” comes over him. I could go on and on with examples of how deep this book goes into the Christian journey with its ups and downs, confusing and clear moments.

For those familiar with Plato, you will of course recognize his allegory of the cave. Lewis is a genius in coming up with a story which can show children philosophical principles.

Tuesday Tome Week 36 – Prince Caspian

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Prince Caspian is the fourth volume in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. We read these books out loud – I read them to the kids – one chapter or two per day. They love Narnia. We also listen to the radio theater version created by Focus on the Family and watch the BBC version from 1988.

Prince Caspian

The children liked Prince Caspian a lot. In fact, my six-year-old said she liked it better than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think I liked it better myself. The journey narrative made me think of our own journey through life.

And then, why do we journey? A battle awaits at the end of a journey – a confrontation with envious, jealous people, who want to either kill us or take away our birthright. Whether they symbolize the forces of evil or mean-spirited people in our own lives, it depends on every context. But I can see this scenario repeated in small things and big things in the human experience and especially in the experience of a Christian – somebody who has taken God, the King of Kings, as their Father. Which, of course, makes us princes and princesses, heirs and heiresses.

There were some funny parts, especially the ones involving Dwarfs. And then there was the chilling realization that the White Witch is back in a different form. Even the radio theater people, by using the same voice, made sure we got the hint. When I asked the children, they said they knew. They could tell it was her again.

The moments when Aslan pops into the story are as touching as ever. My children love Aslan and they know he is a symbol of Jesus.

The best part for me was the location of the battle: Aslan’s How. I think C. S. Lewis was brilliant when he came up with that. The method of Aslan or his “how” should be paramount in our minds and hearts. All in all, a great, meditative read.

Tuesday Tome Week 35 – The Horse and His Boy

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Volume 3 in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy was a completely unknown book to me. How sad! This book has fed me so much since we read it with the children. We also listened to it in radio theater form from Focus on the Family.

The Horse and His Boy

Shasta is an orphan boy raised by a cruel man, who ends up running away to Narnia on a talking horse. So now you know who the characters in the title are. The books presents several other memorable characters as Shasta meets friends and foes on the way to his new destiny.  Continue reading »

The most memorable quote in this volume for me was something Aslan says to Shasta and, later, to Aravis. Shasta wanted to know why Aslan hurt Aravis. Aslan replies, “I only tell you your story, not hers. Nobody gets told anybody else’s story but their own.”

In another place, Aravis finds out that Aslan clawed her back because she needed to experience what her servant girl had to experience for having helped her flee. Aravis knew that she was just using this servant. She knew they would flog the girl once they realized she had helped Aravis take her flight from a planned marriage.

And Aravis did not care. This servant girl used to work for Aravis’ step-mother and had given Aravis a hard time once or twice before. It was Aravis’ way to take revenge. Well, Aslan showed her. We don’t take revenge. We let the lion do the revenge for us. It’s always better. So he clawed her.

After Aravis understood, she wanted to know what happened to the servant girl afterwards. Aslan replies, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. Nobody gets told anybody else’s story but their own.”

When you look at somebody’s life and you see something going amiss, you start speculating. But you don’t know. And you should not want to know. Everybody has their own story with Aslan. And even if we think we know why bad things happen to good people or why good things happen to bad people, we actually don’t.

It’s liberating. It’s a relief. I don’t have to figure out why there is conflict in the world or in my friends’ lives. Aslan – a symbol of Christ – is in charge. He knows. He is handling it even as I wonder about it. And I just need to rest in the assurance that their story is in good hands. I don’t need to understand it. I can pray for them, I can help them if they seem to need help or if they ask for help, but that’s about it.

Of course, the book has a wonderful plot and great descriptions and it makes for an exquisite reading choice. The children love it and even if they don’t get all the Christian nuances and allegories, they get exposure to wonderful writing.

Tuesday Tome Week 34 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second volume of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and, probably, the best-known and the most read. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy spend their summer in the country because of the war (this was World War II England – a chance to discuss some history with the kids), in the home of an old professor. There, Lucy walks into a wardrobe and, from there, into Narnia, a magical land.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

C. S. Lewis wrote about Narnia and you could just enjoy the story as it is, of course. But the writer meant it all as an allegory of the Christian walk and a human’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Aslan, the lion in the title, represents Jesus. The Witch represents Satan and, at times, our fallen nature. The Wardrobe is the actual “door” used to go between our world and Narnia.  Continue reading »

There are so many double meanings to what the characters say and do. Every time I read this book or listen to its radio theater version, which I highly recommend, I see something new. It’s the mark of a good writer and somebody who understands the Christian walk through his own experience.

The most memorable quote for me from volume 2 is when Mr. Beaver talks to the kids about Aslan, the lion. They have never met him so they are wondering what he is like. Is he safe? Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Who said anything about being safe? But he is good.”

I tear up every time I read or hear that quote because I have experienced this with the lion, Jesus, in my own Christian walk. Aslan will take you places where you will hurt. He will make you meet people who will hurt you. You will feel unsafe in places and relationships where you know He placed you. But it’s all part of His good plan for your life. He knows what you need to get ready for the “big journey” as He calls it.

After I read the book out loud to the kids, one chapter a day, sometimes two, we listened to the Focus on the Family radio theater version of it (as mentioned above). Then and only then, did I allow the kids to watch the BBC production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I pointed out to the kids how the movie just cannot give you all the details you find in the book and why they should always read the book first.

It’s not that hard to finish the book in 10 days actually. If you read one chapter in the morning, right after breakfast and devotional, as a way to usher in your Language Arts for the day, and then another chapter in the evening, after dinner, you can get it done. It has 17 chapters. You can definitely read it in two weeks if you should slow down a bit here and there.

Tuesday Tome Week 33 – The Magician’s Nephew

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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis have inspired me and the children in many ways. I will attempt to cover several in this blog post but there will be more points coming, as I will write about each volume in a separate post.

The Magician's Nephew

The first volume of this masterpiece is titled The Magician’s Nephew. The language, the long sentences, the descriptions, i.e. the beautiful prose of C.S. Lewis, represent the first reason why any homeschool should put Narnia on their reading list.  Continue reading »

Whether you do it out loud like we do or you let the children read on their own depends on you, your schedule, and their reading skills. I think it makes for a great read out loud title(s) because, for one, I had never read them from cover to cover. So it helps me to get exposure to great English literature. Then, we can talk about it.

“Mommy, wasn’t it funny when … [insert different scenes from the book, which I see as her own way of naturally narrating back to me what she heard] ?” says my six-year-old, whose world is all fun and games. She sees everything as funny and amusing. She inspires me, that’s for sure.

Then my eight-year-old would repeat phrases and words from the book and let them roll off his tongue and I can tell he tries them on for size. He is taking on new vocabulary and longer sentences or at least full sentences, descriptions and turns of phrases, as if they were new outfits he puts on, outfits that define him in a new way.

See, even my sentences on this blog have become longer thanks to reading Narnia. That’s what a book does to you. It changes you, it penetrates your mind, it becomes one with you. All the more reasons to look for the best titles and immerse yourself in them.

The second reason you should drop everything and start on Narnia is the gospel theme woven throughout the books. You may get more of the symbolism than your children, if they are under 10. But you can always point it out to them. I have personally been very inspired in my walk with God by these books, as I see myself in the struggles and joys of the characters and their interaction with Aslan, the symbol of Jesus Christ.

Finally, Narnia should be read because it is fantasy or fairy tale literature. At the time when C.S. Lewis was publishing Narnia, in the 1950s, many people thought fairy tales were wrong for children because it confused them, as children already have a hard time discerning what is real and what is make believe. Uber-conservative Christians today still stand on that platform.

C.S. Lewis explained why that position is nonsensical in many essays and articles. He explained how children’s imaginations were fed and encouraged by fantastic creatures and mythical worlds where seemingly everything is possible. And he kept on writing Narnia – seven volumes of it.

Well, that is quite a debate and I shall not even attempt it. I have made my choices and you have yours to make. To each his own.