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The Five Best Children’s Book Series (#1) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

July 8, 2013

In case you missed the first four series on this list:

#5 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

#4 The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

#3 The Time Quartet/Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle

#2 The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

And now we finally we come to our #1 series, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis!

Like the Time Quartet/Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle, the choice of the Chronicles of Narnia could be considered controversial because of the strong Christian themes in the books.  In fact, they are pretty overt.  However, like with L’Engle’s books, as a child I didn’t even notice that the books were “Christian Literature.”  All I knew was that they were fantastic stories!  I believe that all children, regardless of their faith or religion should be able to find something that they identify with and love in Narnia.  In fact, I’m going to go to bat for The Chronicles of Narnia and claim that they are the best children’s fantasy books out there. Period.  (I would love for you to argue in the comments with me about this statement.)  C.S. Lewis created an entire world of fantastic proportions in which children, always children, are the agents of power and change in the fight against evil forces.  And what an amazing world he created!

C.S. Lewis was good friends with J.R.R. Tolkien who is the famous author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  They were both members of the Inklings, an informal literary discussion group at the University of Oxford.  They two friends greatly influenced each other’s writing, and it is no coincidence that the two writers created two of the most beloved fantasy worlds of all time: Narnia and Middle Earth.  Though C.S. Lewis does not write about Narnia in the rather excruciatingly detailed (in my opinion) way that Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, Narnia is just as well conceived and rich in detail as Tolkien’s world.  Especially in The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair, readers are transported beyond the boundaries of the fictional country of Narnia and into the rest of the vast, complex universe that Lewis created.  Don’t pay any attention to the movies, which make Narnia seem like it is only a few square miles!

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CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

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PUBLISHED ORDER

Some people have very strong opinions about in what order the Chronicles of Narnia should be read.  I am one of those people.  What most everyone agrees upon is that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe should be read first.  I agree, but then there are two (main) options for how to read the rest of the series.  You can read them in chronological order.

Or you can read them in the order that they were published.  Many people like to read them in this order because the first two books have the same four main characters and the third book has two of those same characters.

I personally advocate a slightly different method (because it is the order in which I read them.  Please feel free to completely ignore this advice.)   I would read  The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader first, then I would go back and read the rest in chronological order, starting with The Magician’s Nephew and then The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle.  I recommend this method because as mentioned above, the first three books in the written order contain the same main characters and occur on a relatively smooth timeline.  Then when you go back and read The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair you not only get fresh and unique stories but essentially you a get a prequel, a side story, and a follow-up story (when it comes to a certain Witch) for what happened in the first three books.  Finally, The Last Battle is the final book in both the chronological and published orders and in the end it brings together all the characters from our world (except Susan, and I don’t have a time for a feminist rant about that at the moment) together for a final adventure.  If this entire conversation has been confusing let me refer you to the Chronicles of Narnia wikipedia page which may clear up any questions.

The Chronicles of Narnia has a cornucopia of all the best fantasy tropes and themes:  witches, talking animals, unicorns and centaurs, king and queens, princes and princesses, magic and love, perilous journeys, castles and ships and underground kingdoms, evil magicians, benevolent lions, shy fauns, warrior horses and fire salamanders.  And more. It is a beautiful mysterious magical world.  I can’t imagine any childhood without it.  So go find a child nearest and dearest to your heart and share with them the wonderful world to be found within The Chronicles of Narnia!

My Fave Book in the Series #7 (or #4) The Silver Chair51yzZgqHyAL._SL500_AA300_

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