Three lessons from reading Narnia with my daughter

Recently I finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my oldest daughter, Abigail. We started reading the series back in mid-June and have more or less been reading a chapter a day ever since. Here are a few things I learned through the experience:

1. Her fake British accent is terrible—but hilarious.

Seriously. She’s seen the movies, so she understands the characters are English. What made reading really funny was hearing her use a fake accent when talking about the characters. “Is Petah or Lewcee in this one, Daddee?” she’d ask in her peculiar dialect. Every time she did it, I nearly lost it.

Every.

Time.

2. She can handle higher reading level books.

This is something that’s true of most kids, according to the authors of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. They’re able to listen to and understand stories written at higher reading levels, even if they can’t necessarily read them themselves.

This is definitely the case with Abigail. When we’re reading, she isn’t acting bored or half-paying attention; she’s really into what we’re reading, following along, asking questions, and making predictions about what’s going to happen next. It’s really cool. But the best thing for me has been seeing her start trying to read the books herself—and actually being able to do it!

3. Reading with her makes her excited about reading more.

We’ve been reading with Abigail (and all our kids) pretty much from day one, so they’re very comfortable with books in general. But what I saw with Abigail was different—she really got into the series and started making suggestions for what we could read together next. Her choice, which was completely out of the blue: Alice in Wonderland.

(Emily thinks it may be because of a Disney sing-a-long DVD.)

So that’s what we’ve just started reading. And it’s kind of weird, but in that fun, well-written way. Starting reading “big kid” books made her want to read more books, which in turn is making her want to read even more. We’ve started talking about reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Odyssey, and a few others although I’ll probably look for one geared slightly more toward her age group for those).

I’m super-excited about how well she’s taken to reading these kinds of books and we’re seeing it already develop into a genuine love of reading, which we couldn’t be happer about.

Parents, what are you reading with your kids right now?

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  • Ben Thorp

    I’m just about to finish The Silver Chair with our 5-year-old, at which point we’ll move on to Voyage of the Dawn Treader (managed to lose it when I went to get the next book, so had to skip forward…) and The Last Battle. Not sure where we’ll go after that.

  • Andy Stites

    After I read Narnia to my kids (I had much the same experience as you – this was 2 years ago, so they were 6, 4 and 2) we read “The Wind in the Willows” and they LOVED that. I tried some more modern books (the Tale of Despereaux, A Wrinkle in Time, Redwall) but the depth of story and beauty of the language wasn’t there. Just started the Hobbit with them and they are loving it.

  • joeycochran

    Chloe (4) and I are on Prince Caspian but we mostly read Berenstain Bears books together at bedtime.