I don't remember when I first read the Chronicles, but it's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From the Collier paperbacks (in the correct published order) to a concept album called The Roar of Love by a Christian group called The Second Chapter of Acts (very 70s but very fun), there's always been some involvement I've had with the series. But the interesting thing is that Narnia was a gateway for me in C.S. Lewis' other writings, as well as many other writings both theological and fantastic.
Narnia obviously enouraged me to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkein, but since I was such a voracious reader in elementary school, my librarian pushed me to other series that continued that love of fantasy.
- Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles about a pigkeeper who becomes a hero and more.
- Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence about the 7th son of a 7th son who discovers that he's the last of timeless group called the Old Ones, meshing Celtic legend with Arthurian overtones.
- Terry Brooks' Shannara series, a what if series set after a nuclear war, with the fantasy creatures being an outcome of that
- Harry Turtledove's Videssos Cycle, a series about a Roman Republic-era legion magically transported to another dimension that strangely looks a lot like the Byzantine Empire
- Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon cycle, a superb retelling of the Arthur story.
- Stephen Lawhead's masterpiece, The Song of Albion Trilogy, a story about an Oxford student thrust into a prototypical ancient Celtic Otherworld that will absolutely blow your mind when you get to the end of it.
Narnia gave me a love of literature and writing and reading that I can never imagine being without. And it taught me that sometimes you can tell the truth better through myth and fantasy than you can with expository nonfiction. Something I've tried to do in writing that will probably never be seen and found very difficult.
Is Narnia a children's story? Yes, but in my pursuit to have the faith of a child, it is a touchstone of who I am today, as a man, a father, and most importantly, a follower of Jesus.