Saturday, January 2, 2016

How We Are Reading the Chronicles of Narnia

When I sat down to research in what order to read the Chronicles of Narnia, I had no idea I was entering a great argument between C. S. Lewis academicians. I soon realized there were two camps, that of reading the books in chronological order vs. publication order.  C. S. Lewis himself weighed in on the debate in 1957 when he answered a boy's letter asking which order to read the series. Lewis had a mild preference to read the books in chronological order instead of publication order.

My own experience with the series was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a child. I enjoyed it but preferred historical fictions and biographies to fantasy and moved on after that one book. I never read another one until I was homeschooling my oldest son. Timothy and I read the books in a mixed-up fashion. We read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe followed by Prince Caspian and then realized we hadn't read them in chronological order. We went back and read The Magician's Nephew and then continued on with the books in chronological order from there. My son loved the series but felt that The Magician's Nephew took away from the magic of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It gave the story away and reduced the intrigue of what was to come. However, reading The Magician's Nephew first does make the sequence of events more clear for the reader and lends to a more biblical approach than skipping it and starting with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (in my opinion).
Our spine ~ Focus on the Family Radio Theater, The Chronicles of Narnia and Veritas Press Comprehension guide
So taking all of this into consideration, I decided to present the books in chronological order -- almost! My oldest son had strong feelings about how The Magician's Nephew decreased his enjoyment of the series. For this reason, I will be skipping and the reinserting The Magician's Nephew later. The question is where. I think after The Silver Chair will be my most likely choice. Do you have a preferred order?

Other resources include ~ The movies, Step Into Narnia, Everything Guide to C. S. Lewis and Narnia, and Literature Kits.
My current plan is for the kids to listen to the books in this order ~
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Magician's Nephew
  • The Last Battle
Blessings, Dawn


  1. We read them in publication order. I agree with your son that The Magican's Nephew takes away a little of the magic otherwise.

    I also only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child. I was an adult before reading and enjoying the series. I just didn't like his writing style as a child.

    I love all your resources too. I wish we had been homeschooling when Amber read the books. She might do them again for a study instead of fun this time.

  2. We read these to our older two with great success and fun. We read them to the younger two as the movies were out--not so much of a hit, as she was exposed to the movies before the books. We will begin Tolkien's series next year when she's an 8th grader, but I fear we might have the same experience. Nevertheless, we will go for it. Who knows? Maybe I'll pick up the Chronicles of Narnia again since the movies are not as "hot" right now! Btw, this is Belinda again (my youngest took over my Google + account--oy).

  3. Goodness! We read them in the order they came in the boxed set, and it was such a long time ago that I can't remember! I had no idea there was such a debate raging on!