Siblings Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter discover the land of Narnia, where they join lion Aslan to fulfill an old prophecy and vanquish the evil White Witch. This magical children’s novel is a powerful exploration of the themes of good versus evil, betrayal and forgiveness, and courage.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In “The Swallow and the Pumpkinseed,” a jealous brother learns an important lesson with the help of a sparrow.
Read this folktale after chapter 4, “Turkish Delight,” to have students analyze character motivation. In this chapter, Edmund is tricked by the White Witch into agreeing to bring his siblings to her castle. Have students discuss Edmund’s thoughts and actions in this chapter. Then, have students discuss Nol Bu’s thoughts and actions in “The Swallow and the Pumpkin Seed.” Have students compare Edmund’s motivation to Nol Bu’s. Ask, “How does Edmund act selfishly in this chapter? How are Edmund’s actions similar to Nol Bu’s in ‘The Swallow and the Pumpkin Seed?’ Based on the lesson Nol Bu learned from his brother, what do you predict will happen to Edmund if he helps the White Witch?” Students should give specific examples of the characters’ thoughts and actions to support their ideas.
In Robert Frost’s poem “Dust of Snow,” a speaker describes snow falling on them from a tree branch.
Read this poem after chapter 11, “Aslan is Nearer,” to have students analyze authors’ word choice. In this chapter, Edmund is traveling with the White Witch as the cursed winter begins to thaw into spring. Have students discuss Edmund’s changing feelings about the White Witch and his circumstances in this chapter. Then, have students discuss the mood in “Dust of Snow.” Have students analyze the way the authors use descriptions of nature to reveal both Edmund’s and the speaker’s emotions. Ask, “How does Edmund feel as the snow begins to melt and spring begins to bloom? How is Edmund’s changing mood similar to the speaker’s in ‘Dust of Snow?’ What specific words and phrases in the chapter and in the poem reveal the characters’ emotions?” Students may give examples of language in the chapter and the poem that reflect hopeful feelings.
In Margaret E. Sangster’s poem “The Lighthouse Lamp,” a brave girl saves sailors during a storm when she keeps the lamp burning in her family’s lighthouse.
Read this poem after chapter 12, “Peter’s First Battle,” to have students further analyze character motivation. In this chapter, Peter slays the Wolf to save his sister Susan. Have students discuss Peter’s feelings before and after he kills the Wolf. Then, have students discuss Gretchen’s feelings in “The Lighthouse Lamp.” Have students compare and contrast the way Peter and Gretchen helped others. Ask, “How was Peter able to save his sister in this chapter? How was Gretchen able to help the sailors in ‘The Lighthouse Lamp?’ Based on both Peter’s and Gretchen’s experiences, do you think you have to feel brave to act bravely? Why or why not?” Students may give examples of Peter’s and Gretchen’s feelings and actions and may give varying opinions about acting bravely depending on the evidence they use to support their thinking.
In Maude Barrows Dutton’s retelling of the folktale “The Two Travelers,” two men are given the chance to complete a series of difficult tasks to receive a reward.
Read this folktale after finishing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to lead a discussion about the theme of bravery. Have students discuss the children’s actions during the battle at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Then, have students discuss the series of challenges Ganem completes in “The Two Travelers.” Have students compare each child’s actions in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Ganem’s bravery in “The Two Travelers.” Ask, “How do Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy each act similarly to Ganem? How are the resolutions of the two stories similar?” Students should give specific examples of how each of the children in the novel acted courageously and explain how the characters were rewarded for their bravery in both texts.