Narnian Virtues: Building Good Character with C.S. Lewis

By Mark A. Pike and Thomas Lickona

Drawing inspiration from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia as a resource for children’s character development at home and in school.

ISBN: 9780718800000


In this engaging and practical book Mark Pike and Thomas Lickona show how C.S. Lewis’ wisdom for nurturing good character, and his much-loved Chronicles of Narnia, inspire us to virtue. Drawing upon the Judeo-Christian virtues of faith, hope and love and ‘Narnian’ virtues such as courage, integrity and wisdom, they present an approach to contemporary character education validated by recent research. An introduction to C.S. Lewis’ thought on character and faith is followed by practical examples of how to use well-known passages from the Narnia novels as a stimulus for rich character development at home and in the classroom.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 267

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Trade Information LGENPOD

About the Author

Professor Mark Pike is Chief Executive of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation in the UK, which provides ‘Christian-ethos schools of character for the whole community’. Mark directed the Templeton-funded Narnian Virtues project at the University of Leeds, where he is Visiting Professor. As an internationally respected educator and C.S. Lewis scholar, his two most recent books are Ethical English and Mere Education: C.S. Lewis as Teacher for our Time (translated into Dutch and Korean).

Professor Thomas Lickona has led the character education movement in the US for the last thirty years and has spent the last five years collaborating on Narnian Virtues. A developmental psychologist at the State University of New York (Cortland), his books on character development, have been translated into a dozen languages, and include the popular Educating for Character, Character Matters, and, most recently, How to Raise Kind Kids.


Foreword on Character Education by Drayton Nabers, Jr
Foreword on The Chronicles of Narnia by Devin Brown

Part 1: Building Good Character: The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis
1. C.S. Lewis on Parents, Teachers, Friends and Books
2. Families of Character, Schools of Character: Examples of Excellence
3. C.S. Lewis as Character Educator for the World
4. How C.S. Lewis Teaches Christianity in Narnia

Part 2: Narnian Virtues in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Six Narnian Virtues
5. Narnian Virtues in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
6. Family Character Learning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
7. Classroom Character Education with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Part 3: Narnian Virtues in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
From Six to Twelve Narnian Virtues
8. Narnian Virtues in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
9. Family Character Learning with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
10. Classroom Character Education with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Appendix A: Virtues Vocabulary
Appendix B: The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis
Appendix C: Parents’ and Children’s Responses to Narnian Virtues
Appendix D: Research Project Publications
Appendix E: Executive Summary of Research Findings

Scripture Index
Index of Subjects


Endorsements and Reviews

In the darkness of our disintegrating post-Christian culture, Narnian Virtues is a shining light. Pike and Lickona have produced a brilliant and readable book that deserves to become an educational classic.
Philip Vander Elst, author of C. S. Lewis: A Short Introduction

Pike and Lickona give us a curriculum that uses Lewis’s stories as transformative moral education. Prepare yourself for an enjoyable read – scholarship is rarely so adventurous!
Dr Perry L. Glanzer, author of The Outrageous Idea of Christian Teaching

The authors of this volume use the Narnia Chronicles to serve a vital purpose: character formation. Lessons about virtue, its value, its vocabulary, are derived from Lewis’ classic tales in ways which go with their grain, helpfully exemplifying his ethical philosophy. I very warmly recommend it.
Michael Ward, author of After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man

Narnian Virtues offers parents and teachers plenty of information and inspiration to explore character education, as well as a wealth of helpful activities and examples, and practical guidance.
Christin Ditchfield, author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia

A must read for all involved in educating young people – with case studies of schools and families of character demonstrating how children are guided to develop an informed moral compass for the modern age.
Dame Maura Regan, CEO of the Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust

Pike and Lickona draw on the timeless wisdom of C. S. Lewis about what character is and offer wise and perceptive observations, suggesting how the rising generation might acquire some measure of wisdom. This is a most valuable book on an important subject.
Professor James Arthur OBE, Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

This book sets out a first-class character education programme: imaginative, inspiring, highly engaging – (who could ever forget their Turkish delight?!) – and genuinely helping young children to make wiser choices. Exactly what a real education should be!
Daniel Wright, Headmaster of The London Oratory School

All in all, this is an oasis of good moral and spiritual education in what can sometimes seem a desert. I hope many will be able to drink from its wellspring and have their thirst quenched.
Michael Nazir-Ali, (Anglican) Bishop Emeritus of Rochester, President of Oxtrad, Hon Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford

This book resonates well with the Catholic approach to character education. It offers parents and teachers numerous activities for developing character through formation in the virtues as elucidated in the Narnia novels of C. S. Lewis.
Rt Revd Marcus Stock, (Roman Catholic) Bishop of Leeds

In this book, Mark Pike and Tom Lickona, both experts in the field, share ways to glean deeper truths and meaning from C.S. Lewis’s enchanted world and, in so doing, they have made character education more accessible for all of us. Narnian Virtues deserves a celebration on both sides of the Atlantic.
Anna E. McEwan, Dean, Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, Samford University

Education is fundamentally about preparing members of the next generation for their future role in society. Moral education is central to this in terms of helping young people develop their own moral character and think through the underpinning guiding principles for their life. This book plays an important role in explicating and applying the personal and societal virtues to be derived from a close reading and understanding of the Narnia stories and thus supports parents, carers and teachers in this critical task. Well worth reading and a truly valuable gift to a loved one.
Professor Jeremy Higham, Emeritus Professor of Education Policy, University of Leeds

Narnian Virtues: Building Good Character with C.S. Lewis not only provides notable insights for educators but provides enlightenment to parents as well. The study of Narnian virtues provides a map for teachers and parents to model, teach, and discuss virtue with young people. Everyone interested in the character of the next generation should take advantage of this book.
Jodi Newton, Ed.D., executive director, The Hope Institute; professor, Samford University.

Wow! What a tour de force! This fascinating book explores how ‘Narnian virtues’ can build character. CS Lewis would be absolutely thrilled!
Revd Lyndon Bowring, Chairman and Co-Founder of CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education)

It’s all too easy to neglect our children’s character development. Narnian Virtues is full of encouraging instruction from C. S. Lewis, the Bible, and the authors’ wide experience of school and family life.
Andy Thomas, Church Minister, and Amy Thomas, School Governor and former Paediatric Doctor

By employing everyday language consistently and exploring extraordinary stories compellingly, Narnian Virtues encourages parents, teachers, and friends both to become and to develop people of character using the thought and tales of C.S. Lewis.
Revd Dr Aaron Perry, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Leadership
Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana

With Narnian Virtues, Pike and Lickona bring together a major research project and the good sense of teachers, parents, and young people, to describe how Lewis’s novels can be used in schools and homes. So much virtue education sounds a little ‘simple’, it is wonderful to connect virtues to such complex and rich literature.
Julian Stern, Professor of Education and Religion, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

Narnian Virtues is a book that every teacher and educator, in fact anyone interested in education, should read. It is innovative, accessible, challenging, and most of all, based on the latest research findings. The book bristles with ideas and practical applications. The kind of society we want can only be brought about by people with the virtues and the character that Narnian Virtues seeks to develop in the young.
L. Philip Barnes, Emeritus Reader in Religious and Theological Education, King’s College London.

Many of us have been inspired by CS Lewis, and shared the delights of Narnia with our children, but this book takes things to an even deeper level. Drawing on the latest findings in character education, parenting studies and pedagogical theory, Pike and Lickona offer an elegant rationale and practical activities for delving into the deeper magic of Narnia with children. As a psychologist interested on the effects of character development on wellbeing, I very much welcome this creative and accessible approach.
Dr Roger Bretherton, Associate Professor, School of Psychology , University of Lincoln

The Chronicles of Narnia as a series of stories have delighted and influenced generations of children, in book, radio, TV and film form. In this unique volume the authors unpick the potential ways the stories might be utilised to help children reflect upon their own values and character and formation. I highly recommend it.
Stephen G. Parker, Professor of History of Religion and Education, University of Worcester

Full of wisdom and practical activities, Narnian Virtues is an excellent guide for parents and educators to teach students about virtue and character using the stories of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to train their children in the values that will help them flourish in this world.
Steven Elmore, President, C.S. Lewis Foundation

In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis presents in literary form what he argues for philosophically in his The Abolition of Man: that certain attitudes are really true and others really false given the kinds of things we are, and the kind of thing the universe is. The objectivity of moral value permeates Lewis’ Narnian world. Pike and Lickona deeply recognize Lewis’ ideal of objective morality, especially as it applies to the development of human virtues and character formation. Pike and Lickona’s Narnian Virtues provides a detailed and practical Lewisian map to guide us in our journey of character formation, so that, through God’s grace, we might become the kinds of people we are meant to be.
Tim Mosteller, Professor of Philosophy, California Baptist University

What an amazing book! A wonderful combination of research, scholarship, insight, and practical activities. A gem for parents and teachers who love Narnia and value the importance of character education.
Trevor Cooling, Emeritus Professor of Christian Education, Canterbury Christ Church University