Aay is 4 3/4 years old. We have kept her fairly sheltered in terms of movie action. She hasn't watched Star Wars, Spider-man, or other live-action fare because if she is anything like me she will internalize whatever she sees and will be reliving it via vivid nightmares for weeks on end. Yet she is getting older and more eager to try these films, especially as many of her friends (nearly all the youngest in their families) have already watched these movies.
In April I bought a copy of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" and added it to our movie shelf. Chris will be hosting a panel on the movie and the book later in the year and I figured the extra features might be useful for his preparation. Aay was immediately attracted to the packaging made to look like the beautifully carved Wardrobe from the movie. The picked it and looked at several times during the following few days and repeatedly asked me when we were going to open it and watch it. I explained to her that we would watch sometime soon, but not right away and that she might not get to watch for quite a while.
One night at bedtime she asked me about the movie again, and I told her that it was originally a book and that it was one of her Daddy's favorite books growing up. She asked if we had a copy, and we walked to Chris' office and I took one of the slip-cased volumes off the shelf for her to look at. She asked me to read some of it and I read about a page and half. She was fascinated, even if she didn't quite follow most of it and as to keep the book so she could look at the illustrations as she fell asleep.
A few days later I packed the book away, planning on reading it to her while on vacation. We never really got a chance to read it then, and I was just about to put it away this afternoon (I have just finished putting away the last of the odds and ends from my suitcases) when she saw it and asked me to read it. We all climbed into my bed, propped up pillows and under my light comforter and I began to read.
I read a few paragraphs at a time and then we would stop and review. I asked her what she had understood. We talked about Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan. She quickly made connections to Lucy, since she is a girl not much older than her. She also thought they reminded her of her favorite comic book family, The Power Pack, a sibling group of superheros, named Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power. Jack like Edmund can be very annoying and obnoxious to his siblings, often teasing his younger sister Katie unmercifully. In this way we ended up reading about 5 Chapters this afternoon, eventually moving out the bed and out the deck to enjoy a snack in the sun while I read some more and the downstairs on the futon, where Zee played with cars while Aay curled up with me.
Noticing how much she liked the small illustrations I asked her if she wanted to some stills from the movie on-line. We ended up on the Walden.com and from there Narnia.com where we looked at stills and then eventually clips from the movie. She was very excited by it all. "There's LUCY!, as a real girl" "Oooh, there the White Witch as a woman", "LOOK look ASLAN!". She was very intrigued by shots of scenes she hasn't read about yet and by things she has read about like Tumnus, the Lamppost and the Wardrobe.
I think she would love to see the movie right now, and would probably be fine, but we agreed to finish reading the book together first, and then watch the movie. I hope that way the scariest parts, the Sacrifice on the Stone Temple and the Queen's castle might be tempered by the fact that she already will have encountered them in the story.
Next week we will test out how well pre-reading the story will prepare her for scary movie moments when we watch "The Wizard of Oz". We have a movie adaptation storybook of it her room. And we read all 45 pages of it last night, and she was mesmerized by the back-cover which had a still from movie, although she recognized right off that Judy Garland was way too old to ever play Dorothy, as her fist comment was, "Hey Mom, there a big girl, a woman really pretending to be Dorothy." I think she get the conceit, as she the noted how the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and Lion were all grown men too. I have put that in reserve at the library and we should be sampling it in the next few days. If it goes well, we will move on to Narnia after we finish the book, and from there eventually Star Wars which she is very eager to watch as soon as she turns 5. After watching Snow White and all others of the Disney Princess movies she should we well prepared for Darth Vader.