As an avid reader and book-lover, I spend hours pouring over the pages of books with my kids. Picture books, chapter books, we read them all. I pick books for them carefully. Most often, I read them before I let the kids have them, to make sure the book is appropriate for what I want them to get out of it (enjoyment, challenge, lessons). Teaching kids about resilience is a particularly difficult task. This is where stories about resilience for kids are a great way to introduce the discussion about this important life concept.
There is nothing like the moment in a movie when the character gets up off their knees and you know everything is about to turn around for them. The music swells and the set of their jaw is awe inspiring. That is what most people are inspired to think about when they hear Resilience; rising up from the ashes to reclaim a life challenged. I enjoy that in movies but that moment in cinema is common and fleeting. This is why books are a better option.
The resilience that teaches a child for a lifetime was found for me in the pages of books. I loved heroic tales of people beaten down and rising against the odds. These types of books were my bread and butter in my little attic room cut off from the rest of the world. I suppose that’s why Chronicles of Narnia was an easy pick for my parents one Christmas. In those pages, I was taught a different kind of resilience in a different way.
This kind of resilience is quiet and enduring. It is the kind that allows someone to stand firm when the world sees things differently. I learned this Resilience by contrast and C. S. Lewis will always be an epic author in my “book” for the lesson he taught me in between the lines of the fifth, sixth, and seventh books from characters that were no longer the main heroes of the story. Spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t read this series.
If you aren’t familiar with the series the first book follows a young boy who finds a portal to another world and gets transported there. He fights an evil witch and saves the world; you know the usual. The next book follows four siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy fleeing London during the war for the safer countryside. They stay at the first hero’s house now all grown up and the ring he used is now the handle of an abandoned wardrobe.
The siblings find the fantasy world called Narnia and the evil which had taken over. They defeat her and become Kings and Queens where they rule for the next thirty years growing up completely. One day they find the lamp post that marks the way home and ends up right back where they started as children in the English countryside.
The third book is about their time ruling from someone else’s point of view. Then, the fourth book skips a year between the end of the second and the beginning of it. The war is over and the children are headed to the boarding school they attend during the school year. They get transported again this time summoned for help.
The four quickly learn that a thousand years have passed and their subjects and friends are long since dead. Their beloved castle is a ruin and their country has been captured by a neighboring country that is persecuting their people. The siblings who have been struggling with being children again help the kind Prince be restored to the throne. When it is over the Narnian God, Aslan tells the two oldest that they can never return because they have gotten too old.
The next stories feature the younger two siblings, their cousin, and a friend of their cousin. The true story of resilience isn’t found in the main plot of any of these stories. Instead, you can find it in the few lines that are given to the fate of their older siblings.
Peter, once High King of Narnia, who must do childhood over again keeps the faith. He spends his whole life believing in Narnia and Aslan the God who sacrificed so much for them. He goes to war and the university. Admirably, he is a port in the storm for his siblings and stays the gracious and noble King he was despite having lost everything that taught him that. He shoulders the burden that his closest confidant, his general, is long dead and he never got to say goodbye. He hands his crown over in the third book trusting a new King to take care of his people.
Susan, on the other hand, loses everything that makes her nicknamed the Gentle Queen. She becomes worldly and often abandons her family for parties and high society. Then, she insists that Narnia was a game the children played at the Manor while hiding from the war. She refuses to discuss it and instead becomes shallow and superficial. Sadly, she leaves her sister drowning in self-doubt and walks away from her family.
The contrast between the two choices is a lesson in itself. It is one that touched me and shaped who I would become. Peter seemed so strong to me. He believed in himself and made choices based on who he wanted to be and not what anyone else thought. Susan seemed flighty and weak to me caring only about herself.
Susan was in pain and was feeling the sting of rejection. She didn’t understand why she would be banned from the home she built just because she was getting older. The problem is that she left others in pain so that she could wallow. She literally wallowed her entire life ending up alone without her family who eventually returned to Narnia in its hour of greatest need.
I decided young that I wanted to be Peter, strong, resilient, and brave. I wanted to be the one other people could turn to in their time of need. That inspiration shaped how I faced the world in middle and high school reminding me to stand for what I believed in and be kind.
A Bonding Experience
If you haven’t read the series or watched at least the movies, I would recommend you do so. If it lies dust and forgotten in the back of your mind, I would encourage you to find copies and read them with your children. There are so many layers to each character. I’m doing so with my son right now and it’s a bonding experience worth doing.
About the Author
Natasia Rea is regular Mom Advice Line contributor. She’s a 32-year-old native Kentucky resident and mother of two wonderful children.
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