We thought we’d kick off our new partnership with Megan and Betsy with a few Easter book recommendations. (If you missed their introduction, read about them here and here.) I will qualify this list by saying just because a book is on our list, that doesn’t mean we love everything about it. In fact, we all feel to some extent that kids’ books about Easter are a bit lacking. Maybe because families spend more money at Christmas, publishers have spent more time and energy creating Christmas books. Certainly, the Christmas section of my library is about three times larger than the Easter one.
That said, there are still some books worth checking out. And here are few we think might be useful to some of you:
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare. Sandpiper, 1997. Ages 10-14. This historical novel won the Newbery medal in 1962. Speare, better known for colonial American history (such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond) went all the way back to the first century A.D. and the rugged hills of Galilee. Taking place at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, it’s obviously not an Easter story per se, and Jesus is only a minor character—but a dominating figure. The author leans perhaps a little too heavily on his human side, and the theme is forgiveness rather than atonement—but since there can be no forgiveness without atonement, a Christian family can connect the dots. Written for ages 10-14, it’s a good read-aloud for younger ones. (On sale at Amazon for 44% off this week!) Worldview/moral value: 4 (out of 5), Literary value: 4.5
Jesus Is Alive!: Evidence for the Resurrection for Kids by Josh and Sean McDowell. Regal, 2009. Ages 9-12. Josh McDowell’s style of evidential apologetics is here simplified for the younger set. Elementary-graders love learning facts, and middle-graders love arguing (they don’t call it the dialectic stage for nothing), so this book gives them facts to argue from. It’s a good resource for learning how to make a case and answer objections, but also a helpful supplement for faith-building. Worldview/moral value: 5 (out of 5), Literary value: 3
Pilipinto’s Happiness: The Jungle Childhood of Valerie Elliot
by Valerie Elliot Shepard. Vision Forum, 2012. Ages 4-12. Many adult Christians are familiar with the story of how after Jim Elliot was martyred for Christ seeking to bring the gospel to the Aucas, his wife and child went to live with the very men who killed him, bringing about the dramatic conversion of many Aucas. (If you haven’t seen or read Through Gates of Splendor or the End of the Spear, do check that out for teens and adults!) This book is a rare example of a child’s point of view of what it was like to be a missionary, and although the text is a little overwritten, the illustrations are quite good and the book was a fascinating look at this amazing story for kids. It’s become one of my favorite Christian biographies for kids! Worldview/Morality: 4.75 (out of 5), Literary Value: 4
The Legend of the Easter Egg by Lori Walburg. Zondervan, 2011. Ages 4-11. When Thomas’s sister gets scarlet fever just before Easter, he goes to stay with some friends. And although he worries about her, when he hears the Easter story, he prays for the first and owns his faith that although he and his sister will one day die, in Christ they have a love that will never end. Worldview/Morality: 4.75 (out of 5), Literary Value: 4.5
The Prince’s Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2008. Ages 4-12. This is one of my all-time favorite books on Easter for kids. It’s a parable, much like a Narnia story, but simpler and with fantastic illustrations by Justin Gerard. When his people rebel, a prince is called to go into enemy territory and drink the cup of wrath on their behalf. My girls were a little scared by the black-robed evil character, but it’s much less intense than a Disney princess movie. Boys especially will appreciate this presentation of clear good vs. evil set in medieval times. Worldview/Morality: 5 (out of 5), Literary Value: 5
Easter In The Garden by Pamela Kennedy. Ideals Children’s Books, 2008. Ages 4 and up. Micah is a typical little boy who loves to help his father, bring flowers to his mother, and climb trees. He is concerned about whether the eggs in the nest will hatch, and is scared when Jesus, whom his family held dear, is killed. This is my favorite of the three because the little boy’s perspective is plausible (even if things are a little contrived), and the illustrations are the most child-friendly without being dippy. (Note: the face of Jesus is never shown.) Worldview/Morality: 4.5, Literary Value: 3.5
The First Easter: The Story of Why We Celebrate Easter by Carol Heyer. Ideals Children’s Books, 2008. Ages 4 and up. This book summarizes the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) in a nutshell, from the birth of Christ through His ministry, culminating in the resurrection. This is a resource primarily for those who are unfamiliar with the work of Christ to better understand why there is more to Easter than eggs and bunnies. (Again, the face of Jesus is not shown.) Worldview/Morality: 4.5, Literary Value: 3.5
The Story of the Easter Robin by Dandi Daley Mackall. Zonderkidz, 2010. Ages 4 and up. In this contemporary Easter story, Gran and Tressa watch robins caring for their nest and make traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Easter birds. The resurrection story is shared as Gran tells Tressa the legend of how the robin’s breast became red, and Tressa learns to depend on God’s care as the robins do. This story would also be suitable in studying birds and their nests. Worldview/Morality: 4 (out of 5), Literary Value: 3.5
Why Is There a Cross? (Little Blessings) by Kathleen Long Bostrom. Tyndale House Publishers, 2012. Ages 3-8.
Who is Jesus? (Little Blessings) by Kathleen Long Bostrom. Tyndale House Publishers, 1999. Ages 3-5.
I’ll admit right off the bat that these little picture books are “cute” and “sweet,” two descriptors that do NOT describe the Easter story of Scripture. If you remember the Care Bears, you’ll recognize Kucharik’s work in these Care Bear-similar cherubic children. However, two strengths outweigh the books’ saccharine nature: First, Scripture references on each page enable a family to use these as tools to further examine what Scripture really says. Second, the text is approachable for many newly independent readers–and that makes these well-loved by my own three children. These books have prompted many observations and questions about the cross and Jesus; for that, I’m thankful! Worldview/Morality: 4.5 (out of 5), Literary Value: 3.5
God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Waterbook Press, 2013. Ages 3-7. Another “cute” and “sweet” story, this book’s gift to us is the panoramic view of Scripture it provides. All of Scripture and Creation point towards God’s gift of Easter; Easter truly is a gift to us–planned all along and not an accident. This book is helpful in talking about Easter’s big picture with young children. Worldview/Morality: 4.5 (out of 5), Literary Value: 3.5
We have several Easter posts from earlier years if you’re interested in more ideas: Desiring Virtue’s review of The Donkey who Carried a King and last year’s Easter Basket post. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all these selections, you might want to read Emily’s recent post at Hiveresources.com, 3 Reasons You Don’t Need Easter Books.
And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see who won this week’s book giveaway!