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I Wonder What's Going To Happen In The Narnia Book Tonight?

It’s no secret to my friends that I
absolutely adore a good book. I spent my childhood seeking out
extra opportunities to sneak in a chapter or two of my current
read, dragging my books backstage or even in the wings during
rehearsals. On one memorable occasion, I even sneaked a copy of
Charlotte’s Web into the bathroom late at night and
sat on the toilet seat, reading until dawn, so desperate was I to
find out what happened. I remember a bewildered and exhausted
father knocking on the bathroom door in the wee hours, saying,
“Are you ok in there?”

And of course I wasn’t, because I had an inkling how the book
was about to end.

Maddie’s loved reading all her life;
we read two books at nap time, two books at nighttime, and copious
books in between. She loves to sit and page through books
she’s read thousands of times before, silently telling
herself the story as she flips from picture to picture. It’s
one of her favorite ways to calm down if she’s frustrated, or
to pass some time on a rainy day.

About a year ago I couldn’t wait any longer, and introduced
Maddie to chapter books. Picture books are all well and good, but
my favorites – the Little House on the Prairie series,
or the Narnia books – were sitting on my shelf, begging to be
read. I started her off with one of my all-time favorite series:
the Betsy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. The books start with Betsy
as a preschooler in an easy chapter book, and as Betsy grows up the
books get harder to read. By the time I read Betsy’s
I felt like I was giving the bride away myself.

Maddie didn’t fall head over heels in love with Betsy, but
she enjoyed the chapter book, the sense of a slowly building story
rich with words, enough to ask for another one. With Maddie’s
vivid imagination, I thought C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles
would hit the spot, and indeed they did.

Maddie and her Gamma have plowed through the entire series, one
chapter at a time, for the last several months. She may take a
break between books for a week or so, but they’ve never been
far from her thoughts. There was one brief detour to Laura Ingalls
Wilder for about a month, but Maddie ran straight back into the
arms of Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan.

Almost every morning, and usually a couple other times throughout
the day as well, Maddie will turn to my mother with a sparkle in
her eye and say, “Gamma! I wonder what’s going to
happen in the Narnia book tonight!” And my mother will reply
back, “I don’t know! I can’t wait to find
out!” Maddie was astonished to learn that, not only have I
already read all of the Narnia books myself and know how they end,
but she’s reading the EXACT SAME BOOKS that I read when I was
a child.


These books have captured her imagination in a unique way, and
she’ll puzzle over one of Edmund’s wrongdoings for
days, or fret about the bad choices ‘ole Eustace is making
whilst sailing aboard the Dawn Treader. For my part, I love
seeing how these books delight my child as much as they do me.

Maddie and Gamma have almost completed The Last Battle, the
final book in the series, and I’m already plotting my next
move. I gave Maddie a copy of Beezus and Ramona, the first
in the Ramona Quimbly series by Beverly Cleary, for Christmas, and
Maddie’s got it ready on the nightstand. After that I thought
perhaps The Secret Garden or The Little Princess,
though I worry about the death and loss-of-a-parent themes.

One book at a time, though.

And in case you think you don’t have to model reading to your
kids – that you can just tell them to read, and not just show
them – Cora is here to prove you wrong. She watches me read
every day as I rock her to sleep, but it’s Maddie’s
excitement about books that hooks the little sister in as well.
Cora will pull several books off the shelf and sit, surrounded and
content, for half an hour as she paws through books, almost the
spitting image of her sister.

But here’s how I know Cora’s hooked:

Last night we walked into Maddie’s room to say goodnight, and
Cora sneaked behind Maddie’s rocking chair and picked up the
beloved Narnia book, carefully marked for the night’s
reading. “I wonder what’s going to happen in the Narnia
book tonight,” she said wistfully, and set it carefully down.

Give her a year, and she’ll find out for herself.


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