I will never forget my first exposure to the classic C.S. Lewis series The Chronicles of Narnia. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre aired their debut program, a dramatization of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I remember sitting in my parents’ living room and listening to the final episode, absolutely enthralled. I had never shed tears listening to a radio program before, but I definitely did while listening to what could have been an extremely tragic end, before redemption righted the wrong and the story ended as it should have.
Along the way, we met the four Pevensie siblings, the kindhearted talking Beavers, the great lion Aslan, and the White Witch and her talking Wolf Captain, and I was swept into a tale of friendship and betrayal, of redemption and salvation, and into a truly magical world unlike any I had experienced before even in all of my (by this point extensive!) reading.
As we finished the final episode, my mom brought out a copy of the book that she’d been saving, a hardbound, beautifully illustrated edition, which we pored over for days afterwards. Since then, of course, I have read all seven Chronicles several times (my favorites remain The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse and His Boy), and they became an integral part of my introduction to the world of fantasy literature, several years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy transformed me into a fantasy nerd. Lewis’s brilliant imagination captivated me, and his uncanny ability to pen fabulously relatable stories for children still amazes me, considering that he never had children of his own, at least by birth.
In continuous publication since 1956, and having sold more than 100 million copies, the Narnia stories are without doubt a pillar of literature, and deservedly so. There are some books that retain their original magic far beyond an initial reading—in fact, some books become more magical each time I return to them. The Chronicles of Narnia absolutely fall into this category.
As an aside, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre dramatized all seven Chronicles, and each one is, in its own way, brilliant. The recordings can be incredibly difficult to find now (I snapped up a boxed set at a homeschool convention 4 or 5 years ago), but if you ever come across a copy, don’t pass up the opportunity! They are truly a delight.