The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1

Book review by
Mark Nichol, Common Sense Media
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Classic Narnia tale has exciting battles, Christian themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 65 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids might learn a bit about British culture and the wartime circumstances that resulted in children being evacuated to the countryside.

Positive Messages

If you truly regret mistakes and poor choices, you'll be forgiven and get another chance to prove yourself. Trust those you love, and believe them when they tell you things that might seem unlikely. Trust your own convictions and faith, too. Don't hold grudges.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters act valiantly to help save Narnia from the White Witch. Edmund, said by his siblings to be difficult, resents his older brother and initially aids the Witch to spite the other children, but he definitely learns the error of his ways. Aslan is a wise, thoughtful guide and counselor to the children, sometimes resorting to tough love. The gender roles among the children are traditional, as when the girls are told they must avoid getting involved in an impending battle.

Violence & Scariness

Peter kills a wolf that attacks his sisters. There's a large battle in which people and creatures are killed and injured via axes, swords, clubs, and more. Creepy, scary creatures are described. The Witch treats Edmund cruelly. The girls watch as the Witch's minions torment Aslan, who allows himself to be sacrificed. (Spoiler alert!) The Witch kills Aslan with an ancient knife in a very bleak, sad scene, but he comes back to life shortly thereafter.

Language

A few uses of words like "dratted."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first book published in C.S. Lewis' classic Chronicles of Narnia series, which children have loved for generations. Lewis, a devout Christian, weaves lots of Christian allegory into the book (and the series as a whole), but the story can be enjoyed on many levels, by all kinds of readers. Expect several violent scenes, including a large battle (axes, clubs, and more are used, and characters are injured and die) and -- spoiler alert! -- the tense, scary, sad death of a major character. Creepy, evil creatures are also described; their leader is the White Witch, who is cruel and shows no mercy. The main characters are clear role models who valiantly help save Narnia from the Witch; even the one who initially falls under her sway learns his lesson, showing the power of repentance and forgiveness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11, 15, and 18+ year old Written byJulieKryger1970 January 5, 2009
Parent of a 6 and 11 year old Written byconcernedNAparent June 1, 2009

Another reason to question the ConnonSense reviewers

Great book and great reading. Great story that lets kids get absorbed into a fantasy world that is built around them in classic language and artistry that is C... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008

transparent, but lovable

yeah, it's totally obvious that aslan is jesus. not subtle and all. but despite that (and i'm not even christian!) i still loved this book. my whole f... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGunnarman February 12, 2010

One of the best books ever made. Dead Serious.

This book is simply amazing. I have read all of The Chronicles of Narnia, and this one is the best by far. C.S. Lewis is one of the best writers in all of histo... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, the four Pevensie siblings -- Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy -- discover that a wardrobe in an old country house is a portal to the magical land of Narnia. There, Edmund meets the evil White Witch and is lured into betraying his siblings, but the plot fails. Meanwhile, the lion Aslan, lord of Narnia, returns to the land, heralding the end of the Witch's long, joyless winter; the children, who continue to elude the Witch's grasp, meet with him. Before their adventure is done, they'll face fierce battle, devastating loss, and glorious triumph, all while learning lessons about faith, forgiveness, and more.

Is it any good?

Anyone who's ever dreamed of living in a world where animals can talk is going to enjoy the Pevensies' Narnian escapades. Originally published in 1950, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is full of storyteller's asides and precious English children, with a mix of adventure and serious battles. Those who know the story is full of Christian allegory (spoiler alert! Aslan sacrifices himself for the wayward Edmund and is resurrected) are likely to spot it everywhere, but some children may simply enjoy the book's fairy-tale aspects. Yes, perhaps the forces of good sometimes seem to have too easy a time vanquishing their foes, and, yes, the writing style is now somewhat dated, but this is still a classic series that young fantasy fans will thoroughly enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and the other Narnia books) sends about the nature of good and evil. Why do you think Edmund runs off to join the White Witch? What does he learn during his time with her? What does his journey teach readers?

  • Parents and kids familiar with Christianity can discuss how the book's plot and characters are like various stories and people found in the Bible. For example, how is Aslan like Jesus?

  • For readers who aren't Christian, do you think you need to share Lewis' faith to enjoy the story? Why or why not?

  • How do you think the book might be different if it was written today?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate