I’m reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to RoRo at the moment. Contrary to our normal rules (for most books that have been made into films, we insist on reading the book first – yes, we’re meanies, but it’s so much better that way, isn’t it?), she has seen the film already a couple of times and has also seen Prince Caspian. She most recently saw Prince Caspian (and was not impressed with the fighting scenes, incidentally) and is getting a little muddled between the two.
I loved all the Narnia books as a child. My parents read them to me and then I read them myself, over and over and over and over again. I created my own Narnia stories in my head and got lost in the magical world where animals talk and four children can become kings and queens. The Magician’s Nephew scared me quite a bit, as I recall.
What I can safely say, however, is that I had absolutely no impression of any religious undertones, allegories or anything of the kind. To me it was just a magical series of books about a magical world and lots of fun adventures. I didn’t even get annoyed about sexual stereotypes, like I did with Enid Blyton – because, frankly, the girls do get to have a lot of fun and do some fighting, too, in Narnia.
Anyway, I’m really enjoying reading it to RoRo – sharing books you loved as a child with your children I think is one of those things you fantasise about when you get pregnant, or before even (or is that just me?), yet so often it can be a disappointment, because they don’t always share your enthusiasm (when I first tried reading the Brambly Hedge books to RoRo she wasn’t at all interested, except in the fabulous ice hall in the Winter one). But she is enjoying The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – at the moment she’s worried and sad about Mr Tumnus and she’s rather in awe of Aslan (I’m curious as to whether she will spot the religious elements, because I think she is far more ‘into’ Jesus and God than I was at school – I took my parents’ atheism on with pride and sometimes perhaps a little too much enthusiasm).
Sadly, though, she has been rather spoiled (or very lucky, I should perhaps say) by having her father read many ‘chapter books’ to her, because he does amazing voices and puts bucketloads of meaning and drama into his readings. I’m not quite monotone – I can get the meaning and I can manage an occasional different accent (most come out as deep Gloucestershire), but I really can’t do a different voice for everyone and I quite often forget that I’m supposed to be doing a voice. To the point where the other night she stopped me to give me reading tips. Apparently I need to read differently when I’m reading the description bits, to make it very clear that I am describing and not being someone talking. And maybe I could try some different voices for different characters, too. So Mr and Mrs Beaver now have Gloucestershire voices and I think I’m managing to make Lucy and Edmund sound a bit younger than Susan and Peter – and of course the children all speak with plummy BBC English accents. I’m not looking forward to meeting up with all the other animals soon, though. I have a horrible feeling I will get all muddled up.
And perhaps before we read the next one, I should read through it on my own and practise all the voices.
What are you reading to your children at the moment? Do you enjoy doing the voices or do you struggle with them like me? Have you enjoyed sharing your childhood favourites with your children or have they not liked them?