Lewis believed that protecting a child from the dark realities of life was a disservice. He disagreed with people who think: ï¿½we must try to keep out of his [a childï¿½s] mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evilï¿½ (from his essay, ï¿½On Writing for Childrenï¿½).
Instead, Lewis saw literature as an opportunity for children to safely encounter fearï¿½and move past it to see that all comes out right in the end. A careful reading of the Chronicles reveals that the fearful obstacles the children face in Narnia help them to understand themselves or their world better, or learn important lessonsï¿½like trusting in Aslanï¿½s goodness and power. Throughout the stories, the characters learn to take independent action in the face of fear, fighting the battle or pursuing the quest as well as they can, while also trusting Aslanï¿½s purposes and involvement.
The Narnia stories can help our children grow in the same ways. Think of all the fears and frights of Narnia as Lewisï¿½ attempt to pass on to your children the real prize: courage. And think of courage in childrenï¿½s literature as another word for faith.
Real-World ResonancesThough the book makes only a passing reference to the war that led to the children being sent away from London, the movie plays this up more, even showing the family cowering during an aerial raid. Today, our kids are growing up in a world of widespread fear of terrorism and war. Kids might be frightened by the movie's depiction of the bombings and some might even connect the scene to the fears they encounter in their lives. How should I handle this?
As a veteran of both world wars, Lewis was intimately acquainted with real-world fears. (In fact, during the World War II bombings in London, several children did come to stay in his home at the Kilns.) Here are some suggestions of what to say, and what not to say: