Story: C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children
Author: C.S. Lewis (Editors: Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead)
Story URL: Amazon.com Link
Alternate URL: Google Books Link
Page count: 128 pages
Summary: In his life, C.S. Lewis received thousands of letters from young fans who were eager for more knowledge of his bestselling Narnia books and their author. Here are collected many of his responses to those letters, in which he shares his feelings about writing, school, animals, and of course, Narnia. Lewis writes to the children – as he wrote for them – with understanding and respect, proving why he remains one of the best-loved children’s authors of all time.
I’m somewhat of a C.S. Lewis junkie. As a child, I began reading The Chronicles of Narnia at the age of 5 while living abroad with my family, away from all I knew, and my parents had a huge, wooden wardrobe in their bedroom. I so related to Lucy Pevensie’s circumstances and personality that I’ve never been able to shake a deep, very personal bond to Narnia or to C.S. Lewis. Of course I haven’t limited myself only to his Narnia series, and I particularly love his beautiful novel “‘Till We Have Faces,” which is based off of the myth of Cupid & Psyche. However it is the Narnia series which I swear has been a part of my soul for over 30 years.
Given how young I was when I first fell in love with Narnia and began to deeply admire C.S. Lewis, it is little wonder that I am nuts about the book “C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children.” I typically only recommend works of fiction on this blog. But Letters to Children reads like a novel, with “Jack” himself as the gifted story-teller and guide into his life and mind. This wonderful, beautiful compilation of letters he wrote between 1944-1963 to children, including many Americans, paints a lovely picture of a man I’ve never met, but who is, in my imagination, a dear friend. I cannot read these letters without becoming teary-eyed at how gentle and sweet he was to his many young fans, even though he has admitted elsewhere on numerous occasions that he was actually uncomfortable and shy around children.
The conversations he has in his letters are widely varied. Some letters are simply thank-you notes in response to fan letters. In some cases he carries on a long-standing correspondence over many years with a child or family of children. He offers educational advice to some children (imagine having a professor of Cambridge and Oxford offer free advice on what the best resources are for studying the myths of Merlin!); recommends his friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to another; encourages a little boy to write fanfiction of the Narnia series (“I am afraid there will be no more of these stories [Narnia]. But why don’t *you* try writing some Narnian tales? I began to write when I was about your age, and it was the greatest fun. Do try!” letter to Jonathan dated 29th March 1961); comforts and encourages a small boy who worries that he loves Aslan more than Jesus; tells many behind-the-scenes details about his Narnian characters (with some particularly fascinating thoughts about Susan Pevensie); and shares interesting personal details about his own life (his marriage, his wife’s severe illness, his home life). All the while he speaks to the children in gentle, respectful, and never-condescending tones.
It is often said that it is best not to meet one’s heroes, as they are sure to disappoint. I certainly agree with that sentiment, having worked with countless celebrities over the years only to be disgusted with the ungracious, petulant, selfishness the vast majority of those famous men and women would exhibit without a care for who they hurt with their behavior. Letters to Children makes me feel as if I have been given the gift of meeting my hero and, rather than being disappointed, I find he exceeds my every expectation.