"C.S. Lewis and 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"

Cumberland County Elementary School
Fifth Grade Classes
November 19-20, 1998


Hello, my name is Richard James. I'm the pastor over at the Burkesville Christian Church, and sometimes I'm a substitute teacher here at the elementary school. But today, I would like to welcome each of you to a special program in the library on the life and work of a writer named C.S. Lewis. He died in 1963, but if he had still been living today, he would be 100 years old this month.



Before we go any further, let me ask if anyone here has a nickname? My official given name is Richard BUT my family calls me Richie because Richie is my nickname. Do any of you have nicknames? (pause to hear their responses) Well, C.S. Lewis had a nickname, too. First, does anyone know what the "C" and the "S" stand for in the initials of his real name? The "C" stands for "CLIVE," C-L-I-V-E, and the "S" stands for "STAPLES," S-T-A-P-L-E-S. Lewis did not like either one of these names; so, he asked his family and friends to call "JACK," J-A-C-K.



Jack Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. He had an older brother, named Warnie. And, just like you and me, he was once a student. During World War I Jack and his brother served as a soldiers in France. After the was he came back to England, finished college and became a teacher of English Literature at Oxford University in England. He loved to read old books, and he also loved to write stories and poetry. But his favorite hobby was spending time with his friends. They read the books they had written to one another and took long walks over the English countryside together.

Here is how he described himself in 1954 to some 5th grade students who had written to him about his Narnian books. He wrote, "I'm tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced, double-chinned, black-haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading." (CSLLC, 45)

In 1950 Jack Lewis published the first volume of his Narnian Chronicles. Would anyone like to take a guess at what its name was? Thatís right - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Before I go any further I would like to ask you some questions. Would you help me by raising your hand and answering when I recognize you?

1. How many of you saw the video of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this week?

2. Do you remember seeing someone that looked like a lion?

3. What is His name?

4. Does anyone know what the word "Aslan" means? (Aslan means "lion" in Turkish).

6. Who else are main characters in the story? (The "Pevensie" children)

7. What are their names? (Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy)

8. Have any of you have ever played in an attic or a large closet or wardrobe like the children in the story?

9. Who can tell me what happened when the four children went into the wardrobe?

10. What was the name of the country they entered when they went into the wardrobe? (Narnia)

Okay, this is a good time just to go over the story. I'm going to tell a little bit and then, I'll ask someone else to help me with what comes next. Can we do that? 


Plot Outline of

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

(adapted from Kathryn Lindskoog, Journey Into Narnia, pp. 109-110)


About 1940, during World War II, the four Pevensie children - Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy - come to visit Professor Digory Kirk who lives in the English countryside and happens to own a magic wardrobe.

1. Lucy accidentally finds herself in Narnia as she walks through the back of the wardrobe into snow.

2. After a visit with Mr. Tumnus the Faun, Lucy returns to England.

3. Edmund accidentally find himself in Narnia as he walks through the back of the wardrobe and meets Jadis, the "Queen of Narnia."

4. Edmund becomes addicted to Turkish delight candy while in Narnia.

5. Peter and Susan assume that Lucy's experience is unreal and Edmund dishonestly agrees with them.

6. All four children find themselves in Narnia.

7. The four learn about Narnia while visiting Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.

8. Edmund sneaks away to betray the others to the White Witch.

9. Edmund makes his way to the Witch's castle and becomes a captive there.

10. As the children and the Beavers flee, Father Christmas arrives with gifts for the children.

11. The Witch discovers that her perpetual winter is beginning to thaw.

12. Aslan appears, greets his friends and knights Peter.

13. The Witch demands her right to kill Edmund.

14. Aslan give Himself to the Witch to die in Edmund's place on the Stone Table.

15. Aslan comes back to life.

16. Aslan revives all of the Witch's victims whom she had turned into stone statues.

17. The children rule Narnia for many happy years before returning to England.


Now, let's talk a little bit about the meaning of the story.

1. Who is your most favorite character? Why?

2. Who is your least favorite character? Why?

3. What was your most favorite part of the story? Why?

4. What is your least favorite part of the story? Why?

5. What did Edmund do and do you think it was wrong or was it okay?

6. What happened at the Great Stone Table?


Now the whole story, including what happened at the stone table, can be just a good adventure story with talking animals and battles, without looking for other meanings in it. But in 1960 a 13 year old girl wrote Jack Lewis a letter, asking him to explain the meaning behind his story. This is what he told her:

- the stone table reminds us of the stone tablets on which God gave the 10 commandments to Moses.

- Edmund is like Judas, a greedy traitor, but unlike Judas he repents and is forgiven.

- the death and resurrection of Aslan for Edmund are like the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for each of us in our world (CSLLC. 93)

So, the Great Stone Table had

> The laws of Narnia were written upon it.

> It was a place of sacrifice and death.

> It was a place of resurrection and life.


Also, in 1954 Lewis answered a letter which had been sent to him by a fifth grade class in Maryland that had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is what he said,


I did not say to myself, "Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia": I said, "Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen."

C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children. pp. 44-45.


Since Lewis wrote this story from a Christian point of view, I have also printed a couple of scriptures from the Bible which help explain the meaning of what Aslan did for Edmund.


Possible Biblical allusions in 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


Isaiah 53:4-12

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. {5} But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. {7} He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. {8} He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. {9} And they made His grave with the wicked; But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. {10} Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. {11} He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. {12} Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.


2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


Suggested Follow-up Projects Associated 

with the viewing of

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis


1. As a writing project, write a one page essay on your most favorite character or most favorite part of the story.

2. As an art project, draw a book cover for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

3. As a literature project, write a poem describing a scene, character or feeling related to the story.

4. As a journalism project, write a news story for a newspaper describing what happened at the stone table.

5. As a research project, write a report on the mythological characters in the story - fauns, dwarves, gryphons, efreets, ettins, hags, sprites, wraiths, etc.

6. Pretend that you are a movie critic and write a review of the movie.

7. Write a letter to C.S. Lewis, telling him what you thought of his story and asking him any questions that you might have about it.

8. Write a song about Narnia and present it to your class.

9. Write your own fairy tale or fantasy story.

10. Make a collage based on the characters and themes in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

11. Read the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and compare the book with the video.

12. Read one of the other Narnian books and give a one page report on it.


Note: If anyone has difficulty choosing which project to do, then they could be assigned to do #7 - writing the letter.


Since he was such a good writer, Lewis would receive letters asking for his advice on writing. I hope that each of you want to be good writers. I've found that some of his suggestions are very helpful. Let's read some of them.

Lewis's Advice on Writing


Dear Joan--

What really matters is:

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your. sentence couldn't mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."

4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please will you do my job for me.'

5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.


From "Letter of 26 June 1956" C.S. Lewis Letters to Children. New York: Macmillan, 1985. pp.63-64


To a schoolgirl in America who had written to request advice on writing:

It is very hard to give any general advice about writing. Here's my attempt.

(1) Turn off the Radio.

(2) Read all the good books you can, and avoid nearly all magazines.

(3) Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You should. hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken. If it does not sound nice, try again.

(4) Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means that if you are interested in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about. . .)

(5) Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn't, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. In a story it is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something that he wants to know - the whole picture is so clear in your mind that you forget that it isn't the same in his.

(6) When you give up a bit of work don't (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.

(7) Don't use a typewriter. The noise will destroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of training.

(8) Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.


From "Letter of 14 December 1959."Letters of C.S. Lewis. ed. W.H. Lewis. New York: HBJ, 1966. pp. 291-292.


Closing and Question Time

I'm so glad that I could share with you today about C.S. Lewis and his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I hope that you have learned something about him and about his story and some suggestions for being a good writer. Maybe you'll want to read some of his other books. I that hope that you will. Does anyone have any other questions? 

I look forward to coming back and seeing some of your projects. I'll turn you back now over to your teachers.

Go to pictures of student projects and reception.

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Last Updated: Sunday, September 02, 2001