There’s much debate about which order is the right one to read The Chronicles of Narnia and in this post you’ll find various lists of the order they were originally published, the order they were written and the order based on the internal chronology.
When the books were originally published they weren’t numbered and C.S. Lewis himself did not provide numbering for the series; however, inside the cover of a HarperCollins Narnia book it reads:
Although The Magician’s Nephew was written several years after C.S. Lewis first began THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, he wanted it to be read as the first book in the series. HarperCollins is happy to present these books ion the order in which Professor Lewis preferred.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was published in 1950 and was the first book C.S. Lewis wrote of Narnia. After he finished it, he wasn’t sure he’d write any more, but thankfully he went on to write seven books. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe could stand alone but in the series it sets the scene and the precedence for the world of Narnia unlike any of the other books. This is why I strongly recommend reading it first. This is the only point in the order debate that I feel strongly about: Read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first! It’s the book that started it all and the book that best introduces and woos readers to love Aslan, the Pevensies, and Narnia.
I believe that The Magician’s Nephew can be enjoyed any time after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s fun to read the origin of key parts and players after you’ve come to know and love them.
If you want to read the series in the order they came out of C.S. Lewis’ head, read them in the order they were written. If you want to read the series to have the best experience with the characters as they appear in the story and the overall plot of Narnia, read them in the order they were originally published.
- The Magicians Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
- Prince Caspian (1951)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
- The Silver Chair (1953)
- The Horse and His Boy (1954)
- The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
- The Last Battle (1956)
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (completed March 1949)
- Prince Caspian (completed December 1949)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (written between January and February 1950)
- The Horse and His Boy (completed July 1950)
- The Silver Chair (completed March 1951)
- The Last Battle (completed March 1953)
- The Magician’s Nephew (completed February 1954)