At risk of touching the hot stove with this article, I’ll declare early that, as a non-parent, I leave judgment on what young children should be reading to their parents. However, as I continue to think about famous stories in fantasy, two stand out, famous for standing apart.
First, “The Chronicles of Narnia” is considered a beautiful story, and Christian-friendly. Reportedly C.S. Lewis wrote this after conversion to Christianity as an adult, making it (mostly the character Aslan) an allegory of Christ, and the stories with undertones of Christianity. I read these books as a little kid, and enjoyed the films. Regarding fantasy, this series publicly is a near safe bet anytime; when anyone mentions fantasy, and if the answer is “My favorite is Narnia,” you can bet on lot of “Likes” on social sites.
Second, when “The Golden Compass” film came out a few years ago, I admit I missed reading this one in the 1990’s. I saw the film trailers, it seemed like a lovely film for kids, and then a person I worked with told me “It’s a movie made to kill God.”
Yikes! Not much surprise that it didn’t break blockbuster records in the US. I’ve read about author Pullman, and he’s a reported agnostic. I watched it when it showed up on cable, and didn’t see anything incredibly demonic, though I liked “Narnia” better. If the author had kept a lower profile, the film probably would have had a larger box office hit.
When I think about these not-so-dark fantasy stories, I mean “Gee, why is one rubber-stamped as acceptable for Christian viewers and one rubber-stamped as horribly atheist?” The answer is obvious: the publicity of the stories. Question: What if C.S. Lewis said nothing about making “Narnia” a Christ-allegory, and if Pullman simply stated he wrote a children’s fantasy book? What would audiences think of the stories then? Answer: No way to tell now, as these stories carry such strong labels. I posted a previous review about my first novella from a fundamentalist Christian reviewer suggesting only “Narnia” can be acceptable for children. (I never marketed my books to small children; it was a publicist blunder.) But is that really true? What about all the great Indies with so many great books for kids like “Toonopolis,” Xannu,” and the “Allon” series? Do we need to analyze the Christianity of each author? Answer: Some parents may choose to do so.
I’m not going to tell parents or anyone else what’s right and wrong in what they choose to read/have their children read. It’s a sacred freedom here and hardly universal. But for adults to just read the stories as written will give more insight into right and wrong for them than the deep-seated labels they both carry. Again, the readers decide.