It has been 60 years since The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe was published—the first of an eventual seven-book series released between 1950 and 1956. Enormously popular, the books have been translated into 47 languages and over 100 million have been sold. Countless readers have been captivated by the stories (including us; we named our first daughter Lucy) and they have spawned many dramatizations, comic books, films, biographies of the author. . . The Chronicles of Narnia are so well-known they hardly need introduction.
Lewis believed that the best stories for children do not talk down to them. As a result the books may be enjoyed by anyone of any age, though they are geared toward children about 8-12 years of age. Plenty of folks have delighted in reading them to their preschool children, and it's obvious that many adults still love the books as well. If you are reading them for the first time, we humbly offer the following suggestion: read them in the order they were originally published (they were renumbered in 1994). This order offers a better continuity of character development and more surprises as well. Lewis offered different advice later in life, but he didn't seem to think it that important. We recommend the following order:
Narnia is not without critics. JRR Tolkien didn't care for the books, and it's easy to understand why secularists complain: the Christian themes of sacrifice, resurrection and redemption are nothing less than overt. What is perhaps more intriguing are evangelical complaints that Lewis promotes the occult in his writing. For the most part, we believe these well-meaning Christians miss the point of Narnia entirely. Recently, pastor Douglas Wilson has written a book called What I Learned in Narnia, in which he argues that Lewis clearly teaches such character atributes as respect for authority, nobility, and love of story. Beyond that, he shows how Lewis teaches true confession of sin, the importance of spiritual disciplines, an understanding of grace and (through a love of Aslan) a love of God. We think he gets it right.