Here are 3 ways Chronicles of Narnia improve teens’ critical thinking skills.
3 Ways Chronicles of Narnia Improve Teens’ Critical Thinking Skills
Teens need to have sharp critical thinking skills to prepare for adulthood. So how can reading a series of children’s novels help homeschool high schoolers improve their critical thinking skills?
Of course, I’m admittedly biased on this topic. I am a C.S. Lewis junkie, having read all his books and some many times over. The Chronicles of Narnia are my absolute favorite books of all time. Therefore, I not only read them to my kids (and teens) during family read-aloud time but also read them every two years on my own. (These days, I usually listen to the classic dvds by wonderful British readers because I enjoy listening to these important stories. BTW- We are Amazon affiliates.)
So, how can teens develop critical thinking skills by reading (and enjoying The Chronicles of Narnia)?
Teen should read Chronicles of Narnia again in high school. There are several reasons for this:
These novels are fun to read
- Remember: Lewis himself said that, ” A children’s book that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Narnia, I have found, is just as much fun for teens to read as it was when they were younger.
They enhance spiritual growth
- An important purpose of these books is to inspire, from a creative angle, some spiritual desires in young people.
The characters’ experiences in the books inspire character development in the readers
- As you have noticed, in each of books in the Chronicles of Narnia, there are people facing decisions about what kind of character they will develop. Readers experience the ups and downs of good and poor decisions that affect character growth.
These books improve teen’s critical thinking skills
- You might not immediately think that children’s books could help improve a teen’s critical thinking skills, but The Chronicles of Narnia have imbedded in them philosophic and critical thinking skill through the experiences of the characters. Let’s talk about it.
7Sisters’ Literature Study Guides for Chronicles of Narnia help teens with their critical thinking skills. The study guides give homeschool high schoolers understandable background information about the philosophical, critical thinking and theological concepts that C.S. Lewis wove through each book. The questions in the guides help build the kinds of inferential thinking that gives teens tools for applying the ideas that Lewis was sharing.
However, these are not long, boring study guides. Like all 7Sisters literature study guides, the guides for The Chronicles of Narnia are no-busywork and do NOT kill the book with overwork or over-teaching.
(Click here for an excerpt from these guides.)
Here are three ways reading Chronicles of Narnia improve your teens’ critical thinking skills:
#1. One of the most obvious ways that the Narnian Chronicles help develop critical thinking skills is that characters in the books must frequently evaluate and discern what is true.
This is an important concept in this day of “fake news”. Our teens are growing up in a world rife with clickbait and unsubstantiated “facts”. It can be challenging to wade through all the media and discern who is truthful and who is perverting the truth for their own means. Teens, who are sometimes idealistic, can have a hard time understanding that one of their favorite TikTokkers or YouTubers might not be telling the whole truth.
However, a good story can be a gateway to understanding. When teens read a story about truth being twisted for gaining power, they can start to realize that not everyone is interested in their wellbeing. Then they can decide what to do with that information. One of the best Narnian books to illustrate manipulated truth is The Last Battle. It is a story rife with the conflict of true truth and fake truth.
#2 Characters in the books must often remember their righteous training and align apparent evidence with what they already know is truth.
Think about Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this novel, the children must frequently discern what is truth or not truth. They experience information in the present that sometimes contradicts the “Old Truths” that they learned in the days of their reigns as kings and queens of Narnia. The children have to learn to calibrate what the see and hear with what they truly know from their training about what is real and true.
This symbolism, of course, helps our teens become more aware that sometimes what appears to be pressing and real demands on their attention and devotion may actually be misinformation, or worse yet, lies. Fiction helps teens sort through that concept in a safe way. Then they can begin to be aware of when misinformation or lies happen in their world and decide what to do about it.
#3 Characters must continuously remember to hang onto Aslan’s words.
In The Silver Chair, the children must memorize Aslan’s words and hold onto those words throughout great trials. This, of course, is symbolism for the importance of actually knowing Scripture (rather than “knowing about” Scripture).
In the crazy media world that our teens experience, they will run into people who say they are speaking for God. Sometimes these are not people of good intentions. If teens have an anchor of actual Scriptures that they can compare the words of a speaker to the words of God, they will be able to make better choices on who to follow.
All our teens will face fake news, challenges to what is right, challenges to God’s words. It takes good critical thinking skills to navigate these trials. The learnings they take away from Narnia will help them develop their critical thinking skills to successfully weather these trials.
Download a single Literature Study Guide or the entire Chronicles of Narnia Literature Study Guide Bundle.
Here’s a post with ideas for teaching The Chronicles of Narnia in co-op.
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