Cassandra’s family (including her husband and children–ages 10, 8, and 6), enjoyed listening to these audios together!
I was absolutely thrilled to review Focus on the Family Radio Theatre’s: The Chronicles of Narnia audio discs. We listened to all seven books in about three weeks! Our children completely loved every title and we’ve already started listening the The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe a second time through.
Now, I should preface this by mentioning, we are big Narnia fans. Our children (ages 10, 8, and 6) have already had the stories read to them aloud by my husband, some children, more than once. So, I knew upon receiving the CDs, we truly adored the stories and the meaning behind them.
Even having heard the stories before, it was a new and exciting experience listening to the dramatized versions of the stories of Narnia. I listened along to every book with the children and enjoyed them just as much as the children, I’m sure!
First of all, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre did an incredible job with the Narnia series. We were all on the edge of our (car)seats as we listened to the stories unfold complete with theatrical music, believable character voices, and life-like sound effects.
I was drawn in immediately by the website’s description of this series:
“…Featuring cinema-quality sound, award-winning writers, an original music score, and a stellar cast of some of England’s best actors. Radio Theatre isn’t just storytelling or a book on tape. It’s an audio movie that plays on the biggest screen of all…your imagination!”
I agree whole-heartly with these words! And because we try hard as a family to be fairly unplugged, having theatrical books on CD are a wonderful alternative to traditional ‘movies’ or TV programs. These are incredibly epic, engaging tales that encourage imagination rather than taking away from it! Hooray for that!
If you’d like to listen to an audio clip, you can do that here:
It is important to note: these audio presentations are not full unabridged read-alouds. They are not quite the same thing as a narrator reading the entire book from beginning to end. These are theatrical ‘performance’ of the books. Much of the writing is the same or very similar, the stories are completely accurate to the books, but they are not full versions because not every word is read-aloud. Some action, for example, is depicted in a fully theatrical scene as apposed to described by full text. Large portions of the story is carried along by dialogue and sound affects with the narrator popping in the bridge gaps or describe certain scenes. As lovers of Narnia, we truly enjoyed this different presentation of these classics and felt they took nothing away from the original stories, but instead, added to our children’s delight of Narnia.
Another things that I feel is crucial to mention is the intensity of these audio presentations. Everything that makes them wonderful and engaging for older children could be frightening for younger listeners. The recommended age is 8+ and for very good reason. The Narnia books do have very dark parts and speak of much the battle between good and evil. The scenes that were a little dark in the books were much more intense in this audio presentation what with the voices, sound affects, and music. I found that all the books had parts that could be upsetting to younger or very sensitive listeners but the most intense for me were The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. We are very, very cautious about what we listen to – so, considering our kids listened and were fine, says quite a bit. I would just use discretion and perhaps listen to them first if you are listening with younger or sensitive children.
The Chronicles of Narnia combines timeless adventure stories with a powerful meaning behind the theme. For Christians, the poweful Aslan represents Christ, the Redeemer. These stories mirror the truth and beauty of the gospel of Jesus in ways that move both young and old to awe and (sometimes) to tears.
Thoughts from the family:
Simon (age 10): “AWESOME. My favourite was The Last Battle”
Alex (age 6): “Yep, AWESOME. My favourite was the first, no, the second… no… the fourth one. I LOVE Prince Caspian!”
Audrey (age 8): “I loved how epic it was! It was epic because they were putting in the sounds and the voices. The voices were really realistic. My favourite was probably Prince Caspian or The Last Battle.”
Daddy: “I loved how true to the books they stayed, yet still being theatrical. I liked the lines and the mix of the narrator speaking when it made sense. Reading it myself and trying to be theatrical – I can appreciate the voices. It was neat to hear it in theatre form. It came alive yet still allowed your imagination to run…”
Wendy’s 12-year-old daughter, Mary Grace, spent hours listening and enjoying these audios on her own.
My daughter, Mary Grace, spent hours listening to these audios during her free time throughout the day and at night as she relaxed and had some “down time” before bed. She said that she loved listening to the audio dramatizations even more than she enjoyed other audio books in which the story was simply read aloud. She explained that the background noises and the various actors’ and actresses’ voices really helped her use her imagination and create the scenes in her mind as she listened. In fact, Mary Grace enjoyed these audios so much that I often had to go to her room in the evenings to tell her to turn them off so she could go to sleep!
Mary Grace was also very impressed that the narrator of the audios is the stepson of C.S. Lewis. She enjoyed learning how C.S. Lewis and his stepson read and discussed the last two books together and that was their bonding time. Because Mary Grace and I enjoy reading and discussing books together, I think that made her feel like she had something in common with the author and the narrator of the books and audios. She loved being able to make this connection with them and being able to better understand them as people.
She explained to me that hearing each character and how his or her personality came through made the characters come alive for her. She said that the audio dramas included just enough description to give the listener an idea of the setting yet left enough to the imagination that she enjoyed re-creating the scene for herself in her mind. The background noises also helped make the stories seem much more real to her.
We plan to listen to the audios together as a family later on this summer when we travel. I, Wendy, have found that my children often enjoy listening to audios like this one (We’ve bought several of Focus on the Family’s audio dramas over the years.) as we travel and that they keep the children’s attention better than listening to music sometimes does. I think it’s because they know if they talk or make too much noise, they’ll miss part of the story, and they don’t want that to happen. 🙂
I can honestly say that my family highly recommends this audio dramatization as well as the others that are offered by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre!
To buy it:
If you’d like to buy the Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre 7 Volume Set, you can do that here. You will receive all 7 volumes in this series, and you’ll save about 24% over the cost of buying each volume separately. These are audios you will listen to and enjoy over and over again!
To win it:
If you’d like to enter for a chance to win either the first prize: a complete 7-volume set of Narnia audio dramatizations or the second prize: one audio of the winner’s choice, just enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway