I recently finished reading “Letters to Children” by C.S. Lewis (edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead) and loved it, as I felt sure that I would.
As the title implies, “Letters to Children” is a compilation of letters that Lewis wrote in response to children who had written to him. Topics of the letters range from feedback on his Narnia books to literature recommendations and writing advice to personal notes to his goddaughter.
While this book is very different from his others, it is an endearing glimpse into the life of C.S. Lewis. The letters included cast new (to me!) light on his theology, views on literature and thoughts on life. His way of talking to children is not condescending, but rather seems written from one (very wise, loving) equal to another.
I was encouraged by the simplicity of Lewis’ faith and his straight-forward admonitions:
“If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so.”
I was also challenged by some of his writing advice:
“[In writing] Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was ‘terrible,’ describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was ‘delightful’; make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers ‘Please will you do my job for me.'”
And of course I was delighted by certain tidbits on Narnia:
“[Aslan is] Turkish for Lion. I pronounce it Ass-lan myself. And of course I meant the Lion of Judah.”
Some of his writing advice is intimidating to me and some of the letters would make more sense within a more comprehensive context, but all-in-all, “Letters to Children” was a refreshing, heart-warming read.