I’ll begin by saying that I have nothing against the Easter bunny. But, my is it a tall order to find Easter books that are about Jesus! I’ve had my own Easter hunt the last few weeks, including maxing out the quota for inter-library loans! It’s my mission to share with you only the highest quality books that will hold your bookworms’ attention while sharing the message of Easter. Rabbits need not apply.
Truthfully, I’ve found that a children’s Bible is the best source for the Easter story itself, as most of the children’s books I read used Easter as a jumping off point rather than focusing solely on the Biblical account. I also found a fair share of “rotten eggs” which attempted to tell the Easter story but strayed too far or simply missed the whole point. I’ll begin with a few picture books that are worth a look, then share our favorite Bibles.
The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale Retold by Angela Elwell Hunt.
This one is hard to sum up in a tidy little paragraph because it works on several levels, from a simple tale for little bookworms to one with depth of practical application for adult bookworms. As the story begins, three trees have grand dreams for what they’d like to become– a treasure chest, a sailing ship, the tallest tree on the mountaintop; as time passes they think their dreams have been forsaken, only to find that “God’s love had changed everything.” At the risk of ruining the beautiful tale, each of the tree’s dreams becomes grander in God’s hands, and they each have a part in the life of Jesus. Not wholly about Easter, but then again it is because it speaks of the redemptive power of God. Two pages depict scenes of Easter. Age 3+
God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren.
Much of this one was over my 3 year old’s head, but he listened intently for its duration, aided by the beautiful illustrations. The story is a conversation between Little Cub and his father who explains why he thinks Easter is even better than Christmas. It jumps around quite a bit, but there are enough pearls to recommend it. I love the way it handles the Easter bunny, candy, and eggs; each is explained in child friendly terms, explaining these fun traditions within the context of Easter’s message. Surprisingly, the cross is never mentioned, although it covers theological concepts of sin, forgiveness, and prayer using metaphors in nature (fallen trees, pine cones, and rivers leading to the ocean). Age 3+
The Legend of the Sand Dollar by Chris Auer.
Having collected sand dollars as a child, I was intrigued by this tale. I hadn’t heard of the symbolism found in the shape of the sand dollar. Preschool Bookworm was more intrigued by the beautiful illustrations. The story wasn’t anything special, but the connection from the natural world to teach about Jesus was interesting. If you’d like a spoiler, here’s the poem of the legend. Age 4+
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. This is our favorite children’s Bible version ever. As an adult, I have been moved to tears many times while reading this. We’ve read it cover to cover at least three times since before Preschool Bookworm could comprehend the text (he still can’t always follow every story at age 3). The subtitle is “Every Story Whispers His Name,” and it weaves Jesus into every story including the Old Testament, painting the picture of the overarching story of God’s rescue plan for humanity. The sections concerning the Easter story cover four chapters and are retold in story form, though making note of the specific chapters they’re based on: The Servant King (The Last Supper), A Dark Night in the Garden (The Garden of Gethsemane), The Sun Stops Shining (The Crucifixion), and God’s Wonderful Surprise (The Resurrection).
My First Hands On Bible from Group Publishing. The Easter story (and Christmas, too) have been published in stand alone board book versions with the same text as the larger Bible. A nice option to make the Easter story stand out on your bookshelf! The Easter version (or the chapters covering Easter in the larger Bible) include 3 short (2-3 page) stories which are direct quotes from the New Living Translation: The Last Supper from Matthew 26, Jesus Dies on a Cross from Mark 15, and Jesus Comes Back to Life from Luke 24. The “hands on” aspect of the stories is that there are actions suggested to make the reading interactive: for example, “Grab a tissue and tear it in half” (when the temple curtain is torn), and “Cup your hands together, then open them to show the palms. Your hands are empty, just like Jesus’ tomb!” The end of each story also includes discussion questions, an action rhyme, song or activity, and a suggested prayer. This is solid preschool material! It’s recommended for ages 3-6. (There is a version for older bookworms, Hands-On Bible, which I haven’t actually had my hands on, but is recommended for ages 6-12.)
The Beginner’s Bible from ZonderKidz. For a simple, straightforward offering, this Bible uses simple sentences, bright cartoonish illustrations, and minimal text per page. If you have a beginning reader or a bookworm with a very short attention span, this is your Bible! The text is broken into 7 stories from Palm Sunday through the resurrection, each a few paragraphs long.
For Older Bookworms:
The Action Bible Easter Story: God’s Redemptive Story by Doug Mauss & Sergio Cariello. I was thrilled to find this as a freebie on Christianbook.com. (It was still offered as a free download as of my writing this post, and for $1 through Amazon for kindle, linked above. The reviews of the Kindle version weren’t great in terms of readability, but I had no problems through the PDF version offered on Christianbook.com). The illustrator of The Action Bible is an artist from Marvel & DC Comics. It offers high interest, gripping artwork that makes the story come alive (no pun intended!). I can’t wait to share this with my bookworms when they’re a bit older! At 52 pages with more intense illustrations, it’s a touch over our heads this year.
A Side Note:
I found this post from The Happy Home Fairy to be helpful: How to Talk About Easter Without Scaring Your Kids.
Happy Easter! Keep Reading!
This post contains affiliate links. You may find some of these titles at your local library, or explore their inter-library loan service, as I did!