Over the past year or so, I have read the entire Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to my son at bedtime, one chapter per night. Some days we miss out on this, but it has become a pretty regular routine for us. He had listened to “The Silver Chair” on his own as a book on CD, so we had actually skipped reading it together, but after finishing “The Last Battle” we went back and read it together also. We finished it about a month ago.

Having read and often discussed the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” before the latest movie version came out made the experience of watching it very meaningful and powerful. We actually saw the film again at our local $2 movie theater today with our entire family, and that was a real treat! I think my favorite line of the movie is when the entire Narnian force is arrayed on the field ready to charge against the enemy, and Peter turns to the centaur Oreius and asks, “Are you with me?” Oreius, general of the Narnian forces responds, “To the death.” Their gallant charge and valiant struggle against the evil forces allied with the Witch Jadis are spectacular.

Photo of Oreius in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe movie

A week or so ago, my son asked if we could start reading “The Lord of the Rings” at bedtime. Those books were and are longtime favorites of both my wife and I, and we have been rather obsessive movie fans since the films first started their public releases. Because of the violent and graphic nature of the movies, our children won’t be seeing them for a long time to come, but reading the books is a different matter.

So, early this week we started reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien at bedtime. We have played several Lord of the Rings board games as a family (even though the kids know very little of the storyline) previously, so my son has heard some of the characters and a bit about them before. I do have a life-size cardboard poster of Gandalf in my office at work, so he certainly has “been acquainted” with Gandalf at least!

Tonight we read two chapters in “The Hobbit,” Chapter 4: “Over Hill and Under Hill” which relates the adventure of Thorin’s party being captured by the goblins in the Misty Mountains, and Chapter 5: “Riddles in the Dark,” in which Bilbo meets Gollum and acquires the ring of power which plays such a central role in the plot of the subsequent “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

What great fun it is to read superb fiction like this as a family, and uncover together (for yet another time for adults, for the first time for children) the magic, wonder, and boundless imagination of the authors and the worlds they created.

Bedtime with kids doesn’t get much better than this! (Rocking a sleeping infant has to rank high on that list too, however!) The kids went to bed tonight listening to the music from the “Fellowship of the Ring” movie CD. What great fun it will be to continue uncovering the adventures in “The Hobbit” and the other LOTR books together in the months and years to come. And then one day, perhaps after the age of 13, my children can be awed and captivated by the movie magic of Peter Jackson and the rest of the LOTR crew who created what I consider to be the greatest epic film series of all time. 🙂

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5 Responses to Joys of sharing Lewis and Tolkien

  1. My wife read the Chronicles of Narnia and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to our children when they were young, then older, and older… We still had nightly reading with Mama at an age where under no other circumstances would they have been content to sit quietly beside Mama and listen to the words and feel the magic, an age where they easily could have read the books themselves, but the peace and calm and habit and “ritual” of the nightly readings and nightly closeness before bed overwhelmed other considerations.

    They did read the Tolkien books on their own later on. Then, as teenagers, Mama and teens shared other books, fantasies of similar kind that also teach lessons as they entertain.

    Nightly reading with children is a wonderful way to establish a bond that can endure right through the sometimes stormy teen years. There are always the book series to discuss, and today, the movies to go to and discuss in comparison to what was in the books, what was included, what was left out, how closely the movie’s representation matched what had been imagined as the books were read…

    Yes, my wife and I highly recommend nightly reading, and these particular books were part of our sharing with our children when they were young, too.. and continue to be part of the sharing even now as they begin to leave the nest for college and beyond.

  2. Hi Wes,

    You inspire me. I read The Hobbit to my son when he was 5. (He’s 9 now) He loved it, however, he got really upset when Thorin died. Other than that he loved every minute of it. He’s started reading the Narnia series on his own, His teacher read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to the class and timed it completeion with the opening day of the film. She took the whole class.

    But now I realize my daughter (5 years old) has been missing out on these stories. I think tonight is a good night for Narnia, one chapter at a time.. 😉 She’s already in love with the story from hearing about it from her brother and parents. We wont take her to see the film though. She loves animals and we don’t think she would appreciate the fighting sceness. Thanks for the reminder.

    Cheers!

  3. Stan Higgins says:

    Wes,

    I would like to think that sharing a bedtime story with our children each night over the years is one thing that has made them such avid readers today at the age of 11. Also, it gave me an opportunity to read some wonderful stories that I would not have otherwise been exposed to.

    I too read the Chronicles to our children when they were younger. We also enjoyed the movie recently. Now, we love to listen to the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre performances on CD when we go on trips. It’s amazing how short they make the trips seem and the twins don’t get bored so easily.

  4. Debbie Williams says:

    Hi, Wes,

    It’s lunch break at ESC11 today at the Leadership Symposium where you were one of the keynote speakers and now I’m in your breakout session, Digital Storytelling, what an awesome morning it has been!

    When I went to your blog site this one caught my eye, being the district librarian at MISD I’m in to books as well as technology.

    Just wanted to say I think that the Chronicles and Lord of the Rings have a tremendous message and you and your wife are obviously doing a wonderful job delivering that message to your children.

    Thanks for a great workshop, and thanks for all you are doing for education in Texas! If you would ever like to visit MISD a very small, rural 2A school in western Parker County, and wow us with your knowledge and wise we would truly be blessed to have you visit.

  5. Kathryn says:

    I also read the Chronicles and LOTR to my son at bedtime. Our bedtime reading extended into his teens, though by the late teens it was often just the two of us curled up on the couch together reading different books and sharing scenes. I think we both have read a number of things that we might not have otherwise because of that sharing.

    When the LOTR movies were released we both took days off work to attend the opening of all three together and did the same for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Though the theater was crowded with family groups I know I was the only mom attending with her 24-year-old son. Lucky me.

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