I recently started reading C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my four-year-old son, Benjamin. It is his first acquaintance with Narnia, as well as his first full-length chapter book (other than The Big Picture Story Bible).
Benjamin loves having books read to him. He loves the whole visual-auditory experience of a children’s book full of colorful pictures. My copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has a few pictures here and there, but for the first time in his life Benjamin is being trained in the art of listening to the spoken word. His eyes are being deprived of what they normally receive when we read (pictures on every page), and his imagination is being forced to fill in the gaps.
I didn’t expect it to be an easy transition, and it hasn’t been. He never asks to read the book with lots of words and few pictures, and quite often when I suggest it he is hesitant to begin. But tonight I saw him lie there on his bed, listening to Edmund succumb to the Turkish delight, and by the time we had finished chapter 4 he was ready for more. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I hope it was the first of many more to come as we travel through Narnia together on our way to Middle Earth. All in good time.
But for now, it’s time to stretch those imagination muscles. My little son of Adam needs to get ready. The thrones of Cair Paravel are waiting.