C.S. Lewis’s writings have long challenged the thinking of many readers on the Bible and Christianity. They’re also full of religious and philosophical symbolism. Lewis is able to communicate his messages with tremendous clarity and logic that the average person easily understands. While Lewis’ books are enjoyed by adults and young people alike, studying Lewis can be especially transformative for middle and high school students. While there are a myriad of reasons that one should study Lewis’ works, let’s look at a few reasons that middle and high school students will benefit from reading and of Lewis’ titles.
Three Reasons Middle School and High Schoolers Should Study C.S. Lewis
- FIRST, let’s talk about vocabulary. Lewis’ books are chock full of vocabulary that can build a treasure trove of new word usage for those students who are diligent enough to study Lewis and his works. For example, in Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of the Space Trilogy Series, students will encounter words like philologist (one who studies linguistics), lassitude (the mind or body being strained due to surroundings), and trencherman (someone who is a heavy eater). While in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, they will learn fantastic words like frowsty (having a stale, warm, and stuffy atmosphere), skirling (the act of shrieking or making a shrill, wailing sound) and so many more rich vocabulary words that will enhance their dialogue and writing skills for years to come.
- SECOND, let’s talk about the Chronicles of Narnia. Many C.S. Lewis fans are under the impression that the Chronicles are for “younger” readers, when this simply is not the case. Lewis himself says, in Of Other Worlds, that “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty—except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.” The Chronicles of Narnia are full of rich symbolism, both religious and philosophical, which can spark interesting and important dialogue between parents, students, and teachers, alike! Reading through the Chronicles can encourage middle and high schoolers to think through and critically examine their understanding of and relationship with their creator in a way that they couldn’t do as younger readers.
- THIRD, let’s talk about common elements within C.S. Lewis’ literature. Lewis wrote books that were incredibly rich with a variety of literature elements that encourage deep and critical thinking amongst even the most intelligent middle and high schoolers. Lewis’
Out of the Silent Planet invites discussion of Plato and the Allegory of the Cave in addition to themes like Modernism (including materialism, naturalism, empiricism, scientism, humanism, and social Darwinism). In Lewis’ Space Trilogy series, students will also get to examine, during an in-depth study of these works, all of the facets of fantasy literature and the characteristics of this genre including idyllic openings, deceptions, a quest, foreshadowing, return to old truths, bad guys, symbolism, rising action, climax, falling action, and a denouement or recovery. As evidenced above, C.S Lewis and his many works can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. No matter the title, Lewis has created works that can spark imagination, discussion, critical thought, and so much more amongst those who choose to engage in his writings. Lewis’ books often evoke different “takeaways” each time they are read and readers who enjoy Lewis often comment that this characteristic of Lewis’ writing makes the books seem “new” each time they are read. Readers who read Lewis’ works in middle school and then again in high school will have different reflections of their reading experience each time, which is yet another reason why middle and high schoolers should definitely study C.S. Lewis.
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