Easter, a time of celebration and renewal, is one of the most difficult holidays to explain to children with concepts many adults find hard to explain, such as death, an empty tomb and Jesus rising from the dead. Yet that is what the Easter story represents, Christ's death on the cross, the doorway to forgiveness and salvation.
This book review roundup for children ages 4-8 features books that both entertain and teach youngsters the spiritual meaning of Easter with images and words they are familiar with such as bunnies and eggs.
I've also included a recipe for resurrection rolls with marshmallow centers. While rolls bake, the oven represents Christ's tomb. When the rolls finish cooking, are removed from the "tomb" and broken in half, melted marshmallow centers leave a cavity that portrays Christ's empty tomb Easter morning.
In addition to a free devotional guide for the Holy week of Easter offered by Billy Graham's Evangelistic Association.
***Continue to the bottom of the review for additional book covers and information***
"The Sparkle Egg," by Jill Hardie & Christine Kornacki, Ideals Children's Books, 2014, 32 Pages, Hardcover, Ages 4-8, 978-0824956646, $16.99
This lavishly illustrated picture book features a young boy whose excitement about coloring Easter eggs is surpassed by worry, shame and guilt because he lied to his parents about a school assignment. His mom helps him decorate a plastic egg with a cross and sparkles and tells him to draw a picture to put inside the egg of "anything you're ashamed of." The following page is a picture of the family gathered in prayer.
Easter morning when the boy finds the egg empty his parents explain, "Your egg is empty because the things you've done wrong are forgiven and gone just like Christ's tomb was empty that first Easter Day."
I especially like Jill's illustration of "forgiveness using a popular holiday symbol" that takes the focus off coloring eggs and the Easter bunny. Instead the words and pictures portray the rich, spiritual meaning behind Christ's death on the cross.
"Here Comes Peter Cottontail," Musical Board Book" by Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins, Illustrator Pamela Levy, Candy Cane Press-Ideals—2014, Ages 2-5, 16 Pages, 978-0824919276, $12.99
"Here comes Peter Cottontail," a musical board book, plays a familiar tune youngsters can sing along with the rhyming story. "Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin down the bunny trail, hippity-hoppin, Easter is on its way."
Pictures of children, chipmunks, rabbits and mice filling Easter baskets with candy and treats portray a familiar Christmas theme with the words, "You'll wake up Easter morning and know that he was there, when you find those chocolate bunnies that he's hiding everywhere."
The book is perfect for chubby fingered toddlers through pre-school age. Youngsters will delight in pushing the big blue button on the cover activating the sing along melody. I'm equally sure siblings, parents or grandparents will be asked many times over for the story to be read "just one more time."
This simple story of gifts and giving celebrates Easter with familiar words, pictures and song young children understand.
"The Legend of the Easter Egg," by Lori Walburg, Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, Zonderkidz, 2014, 32 Pages, Ages 4-8, Hardcover, 978-0310735458, $15.99
In this story set in the late 1800's, Thomas and his sister Lucy learn the meaning behind Easter eggs, the empty tomb and the miracle of Easter when Thomas must stay with friends because his sister has Scarlett fever.
Thomas stays with friends who own the local candy store and attends church with them. There he learns "just as a chick breaks out of an egg, so has Jesus broken free of the tomb of death."
The story portrays the real meaning behind Easter eggs, the empty tomb and the hope found in Jesus.
Colorful illustrations of farm animals, children and fanciful animals add to and enhance the story that ends with an explanation of the "traditions and symbols of Lent and Easter," from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail: a Musical Board Book, by Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins, Illustrator Pamela Levy
A new format for a bestselling Easter music book.
This perennial Easter favorite has delighted children since Gene Autry first recorded the song in 1950. Since then, its popularity has increased, making Peter Cottontail one of the most recognized and beloved Easter characters ever created.
This bouncy, happy tune can be heard simply by pushing the sound button on this sturdy board book. The song plays once each time the button is pushed, and children and their parents will soon find themselves singing along. This delightfully illustrated combination of book and tune will practically leap off the shelves. Ages 2-5.
The Legend of the Easter Egg, by Lori Walburg, Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey
One April morning when the air was soft and sweet, a boy and his sister went outside to gather eggs.
When Thomas's older sister Lucy falls ill, Thomas goes to live with the Sonnemans in their candy shop. He gets to eat peppermint sticks, fill candy jars, and weigh chocolate on the tippy scales, but he misses Lucy. When Easter comes, Mrs. Sonneman gives Thomas his first chocolate egg and Thomas learns the true meaning behind Easter eggs, the empty tomb, and the hope found in Jesus.
This classic story of faith, love, and wonder is sure to be a treasured reminder of the miracle of Easter.
The Rhyme Bible: Storybook for Toddlers, by LJ Sattgast, Illustrated by Laurence-Cleyeet Merle
The fun-time, anytime, read-aloud Bible rhyme! Boys and girls love the soothing sounds of rhyme. Now toddlers have a rhyming Bible created just for them! From the story of creation to the resurrection of Jesus, this is the perfect choice for parents who want to introduce their toddlers to the Word of God. Joyful pictures and classic stories told in vivid verse make this a sure favorite that will entertain your young ones and teach them biblical lessons that last a lifetime.
"101 Bible Stories From Creation to Revelation," Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation brings together 101 of the most well-known and beloved Bible stories. Written for young independent readers and with colorful artwork, this storybook Bible is sure to become a favorite. Each story is one page in length and features a picture depicting the main character or event of the story. Both story and artwork can also provide perfect springboards for further family or child and parent discussion of the rest of the story and its impact on our faith.
My Bedtime Story Bible, by Jean E. Syswerda, Illustrated by Daniel Howarth
"My Bedtime Story Bible" focuses not only on biblical characters and stories, but also on the quiet times of those characters before sleep. Parents will enjoy reading "My Bedtime Bible Story" to their children just before bed. And children will enjoy hearing stories about bible characters and the truths they can learn from them---all in a manner that promotes quiet, settled moments rather than noisy, busy times.
Pups of the Spirit, by Jill Gorey & Nancy Haller
'God gave each puppy a gift of its own, and PUPS OF THE SPIRIT is how they are known!' Peanut is patient, and Kay is so kind. Each of these nine loveable puppies has a special trait to help them grow closer to God. From love and joy to patience and kindness, children will have fun learning about the fruits of the spirit with these playful and cuddly companions.
"The Easter Story for Children," by Max Lucado
Gather the family around for this beautiful retelling of the Easter story and watch Jesus' final days on earth come to life.
With more than 100 million products in print, Max Lucado is one of America's most widely read authors. He and his wife, Denalyn, live in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the Oak Hills Church.
"The Story of the Easter Robin," by
In the center of the nest lay one perfect egg, the color of a spring sky. The father robin sat on a branch nearby, guarding his family. Tressa spotted raccoon tracks below and a blue jay eyeing the nest.
'Gran, how are we going to keep the egg safe?'
'We'll have to leave that one to the Creator,' Gran said.
Robins have built a nest on the window ledge at Grandmother's house! Tressa is thrilled---and concerned. What will happen to the sky-blue egg laid by the mother robin? As more eggs appear, Tressa witnesses the daily drama of the robins' nest and learns how God cares for all creatures. Besides watching the birds, there are Easter eggs to color.
And there is a very special story to hear---a tale of long ago about one small bird with a very big heart. How did the robin get its red breast? Tressa is about to find out as Gran tells her the story of the Easter robin. Brought to life with colorful, tender illustrations, "The Story of the Easter Robin" will captivate and teach your child about compassion and faith.
God Gave Us Easter, by Lisa Tawn Bergren, Illustrated by Laura J Bryant
"God loved us so much he wanted us to always be with him too. That’s why God knew he’d need to give us Easter.”
As Little Cub celebrates Easter with Papa, Mama, and her brother and sister, she begins to ask her papa questions about this very special day of the year. Papa lovingly explains God’s plans for his children, while taking Little Cub on a memorable walk through her stunning Arctic world, and he shares how Easter came about in clear, simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.
The Sparkle Egg, by Jill Hardie & Christine Kornacki
A new Easter tradition from the author of "The Sparkle Box.
Easter is coming, and Sam loves Easter! But this year, he is upset about a lie he told his parents. Even though he apologized and they forgave him, Sam can't shake the feeling that he is a bad kid for what he did. Meanwhile, his parents help him make a special Easter craft called a Sparkle Egg. His mom tells him to write anything he feels sorry about or ashamed of on a piece of paper and put it inside his Sparkle Egg.
On Easter morning, when he opens his Sparkle Egg expecting a surprise, Sam finds that it is empty! His parents explain that because Jesus died and rose again, we are forgiven. Like the tomb that first Easter Day, Sam's egg is empty -- and Sam's wrongdoing is completely forgiven.