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C. S. Lewis

Christian Storyteller for Children

 

Inspirational literature and creative writingHow often have parents said, "How we wish we had better Christian writers. Our children need good books to read.  But how few there are... that will cause them to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus.  And then came C.S. Lewis.

 

Clyde S. Kilby says of Lewis in his book The Christian World of C. S. Lewis ((Eerdmans. Grand Rapids, 1964. p. 116), "to suggest analogies ... of the Christian scheme of things was one of the obvious purposes for his writing the Narnia stories."  One almost senses this as one begins to read of the Narnians and those earth children who are drawn into Narnia by Aslan the Great Lion.

 

The doings in Narnia are excellent for helping to explain to children the teachings of Scripture.  Rebirth, for instance, becomes clear to a child who has read about Eustace' "transformation."  And yet Lewis is never sacrilegious or blasphemous; his use of the commonplace or fantastic to explain divine things is not more so than Christ’s would be.  But Lewis' tales are not simply didactic- they are living, breathing tales that hold children spellbound from the first word.  One evening I began reading "The Last Battle" at about seven o’clock.  As the younger children began drifting off to sleep, I had to chase them to bed.  Eventually, there were only the two oldest ones left.  We reached the triumphant finale at 3:00 A.M.  And this was not their first hearing. 

 

What makes Lewis' fairy tales so intriguing, not only to children but to adults as well?  Undoubtedly it is his ability to sustain interest from  one page-perhaps I should say from one sentence to the next.  It is also his ability to draw us irresistibly into the world of his imagination.  We seem actually to breathe the invigorating air of Narnia.  Roger Lancelyn Green has done an excellent job describing Lewis' tales of Narnia.  He says in his book, C.S.Lewis, (Henry Z. Walck, Inc., New York, pp- 38.40.)

 

"To describe the Chronicles of Narnia is to have little idea of their quality.  At the most obvious level they are a series of adventure stories by a master storyteller with an excellent sense of construction.  Looking a little deeper, we find that the magic is not only that of the wonders themselves; there is a glamour in the old sense that falls upon us as we enter Narnia like the softest dew, but growing as we enter deeper and deeper in.  This is subtle creation of atmosphere, of which the sights, the sounds, the smells and taste and feel grow upon us until Narnia becomes a place to remember rather than learn about,...Deeper still, and we realize a difference between these stories and most other stories for children’s books; though the White Witch...may represent the evil power, just as there are good powers culminating in Aslan, the real villains as well as the real heroes and heroines are among the children who find their way...into Narnia.  It is Edmund who betrays Peter, Susan, and Lucy to the Witch, just as it is Eustace who is the disruptive element on board the Dawn Treader."

 

Reprinted from the Christian Home and School, April, 1965, p. 5 by Dorothy Kreiss.   Read more about the value of reading Lewis’ stories in the next article, C.S. Lewis & FairyTales.


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