Bedtime stories, in fact stories at any time of the day are a wonderful experience for both parents and children. I have strong memories of my mother reading to us. As she is talented at art, she would sometimes draw a picture at the space at the end of a chapter.

When we read to children we are sharing a special time, helping them relax and developing their reading. Some clever people can make up stories for their children, at the end of the day, when everyone is tired. I’m not one of those people and I take my hat off to those who provide such rich experience for their children. Watching films teaches them about characters, story, and a range of emotions. Surrounding children with stories is such a good thing to do. Apart from the reasons just mentioned we are equipping them with images and memories that God can draw on as they develop spiritually.

I have recently read the Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of JRR Tolkien and was struck by the conversation he had with C.S. Lewis, one that contributed to Lewis’ conversion. They are discussing the Gospels and the myths that they studied.

“We have come from God (Tolkien continued) and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God…Our myths maybe misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour”

Over Advent our family watched the first two Lord of the Rings films together. We focused on the character of Aragon as a king who was hidden and who is revealed as the story moves on. As we watched, the many, many aspects of the story that touch on the Gospel and spirituality struck me. Images of good and evil, messiah figures, Frodo carrying the burden of the ring into the fires of Mount Doom to destroy it, images of heaven and hell; the list is almost endless. I began thinking about all the books we have read to the children over the last few years. There are so many spiritual ideas and concepts that come through really good children’s literature. I have in discussion with friends, discovered or been reminded of stories and films that, like all the parables, help children to discover something of God and something of the spiritual life.

The “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” is a Narnian journey myth, created by Lewis that can also talk about the journey to the father heart of God. In it Aslan, meeting the travellers on the beach at the end of the world, tells them “There is a way into my country from all the worlds.” He also tells Lucy and Edmund that they would not be returning. He tells them to get to know him in their own world “…there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name.”

The stories we tell and read to our children, the stories we watch are ways into the spiritual world, a way of getting to know Jesus in different ways. They give us a glimpse of the true light and help with the steering on the way to the true harbour.