Have you ever gotten a little stuck when trying to share the Easter story with kids?
You might get stuck on the Christian lingo we use, like “Jesus’ blood washes away our sins” which sounds a little gory to kids (and anyone not familiar with the phrase)!
Or you might get stuck on the actual death part. It’s hard to talk about death with young children, because their abstract minds can’t fathom the permanence of death or the separation of soul and body.
In addition, there is a lot of mean, awful, and downright confusing characters in the Easter story. (Like the part where the devil entered Judas… say what?)
Compared to the cute cuddliness of a baby in a manger, Easter is a tough celebration to explain to our kids. It’s not exactly kid-friendly.
And yet, Jesus came to bring the kingdom of God to the lives of our kids too, not just to adults. So we need a way to explain the difficult concepts of Easter to kids in a way that aren’t overwhelming or scary. They need to know that the Gospel is truly Good News.
My favorite way to introduce Easter:
My favorite way to introduce difficult concepts to kids is through good-quality storybooks, for a number of reasons.
- Theological oversight: When you get a good-quality picture book, you know it’s not just you talking. There has been an author, an editor and a publishing board behind this book. This is why I don’t often recommend self-published books on my website. I have nothing against them (in fact, I’ve self-published myself!) but I prefer to recommend Christian books that have more than one set of eyeballs on the theology.
- Simple to teach: The flip side to having theological oversight is that you also don’t have to come up with the explanation on your own. It’s right there, written out for you! All you have to do is read it.
- Simple teaching: Sometimes we adults don’t even grasp the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When someone has taken the time to present it to kids, it often makes more sense to adults as well.
- Pictures to hold their attention: Good illustrations are key to helping a child remember what was in a book. One afternoon, my preschooler begged me to read a very specific devotion from this book. He had no idea what the devotion was about, but it had captured his attention MONTHS AGO because of the image of a bird’s nest on a person’s head. Good illustrations pave the way toward understanding.
Have I convinced you that it’s time to snag yourself a good quality picture book? Excellent. I’ll share with you my recommendations so you can pick the best one for your family!
Gospel-Focused Christian Easter books:
1. Good News! It’s Easter
Good News! It’s Easter is the perfect introduction to Easter for your toddler or preschooler.
PRO: It’s very short and focuses on the renewal that spring and Easter bring. It ends with Jesus coming out of his tomb, celebrating with all the other animals that found renewal throughout the book.
CON: Because the book is so short, it doesn’t go into why Jesus is coming out of the tomb. You’ll need to fill in the blanks yourself. It’s great for use as an early introduction though!
2. Holy Week: An Emotions Primer
This is the latest instalment in the incredibly gorgeous and surprisingly deep Baby Believers series from Catechesis Books. This whole series will give you a TON of conversation starters and teachable moments, but if you can just grab one, get this Holy Week book!
This multi-layered book does 3 things in 1:
- It goes through the story of Easter in order.
- It introduces kids to the actual text of Scripture.
- Each page of text also introduces an emotion!
3. The Garden, The Curtain, and the Cross
This book is brilliant. Seriously. I read this to a group of about 70 kids ages 2-12 one Easter morning, and they hung on every word. (Unusual for a group that size!) The story starts at the Garden of Eden, connects to the curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, and ends in heaven. Somehow the author managed to pack the ENTIRE Bible into under 1000 words.
PROS: Starts with WHY we needed Jesus to die and come back to life. Also, the illustrator is incredible. You could spend hours just pouring over her hilarious and heartwarming illustrations.
4. Benjamin’s Box
If you’ve ever heard of Resurrection Eggs (see them on Amazon), this is the original book that introduced them. It follows the story of a first century boy named Benjamin who follows Jesus around during Holy Week and collects little reminders of Jesus in his treasure box.
PROS: This story clearly tells both the story and the meaning of the story. You can do a lot of activities with this book either by purchasing the pre-made Resurrection Eggs or by creating your own.
This is also a GREAT book to read with large groups of kids. One year I dressed up and recited it to about 100 kids with a spotlight on me (and later, the cross). They listened WELL.
CONS: It’s quite a long story, so you might want to read it in instalments with very small kids.
5. The Sparkle Egg
This book is really great to help kids understand the meaning behind Easter, and how it actually applies in real circumstances they face. In it, the main character tells a lie and feels guilty about it for the next week. His mom has him decorate a special sparkle egg and tuck a paper inside. On the paper he draws a representation of his lie. On Easter morning, he opens the egg to discover the paper is gone, just like his sin. There’s a couple short conversations with his parents but they’re short and realistic.
PROS: This is a perfect example of helping your child experience a deep spiritual truth through story. As your kids identify with the boy in the story, feeling his guilt and later, his freedom. Also, I love that you could do this with your own kids.
6. God Gave Us Easter
To be honest, I’m including this one because so many other people love it. It’s not a favorite of mine but because it’s a top-seller, I can’t make a list like this without mentioning it!
PROS: It’s cute, and the illustrations help the kids understand what’s being said. In fact, I think the illustrations MAKE this book – without them, it’s simply a long boring conversation between a little bear and her dad. However, the book does do a good job of explaining Easter to kids, albeit in a rather abstract way.
CONS: There’s no storyline except what is seen in the illustrations.
7. Easter Love Letters From God
This book is a full re-telling of the Easter story.
PROS: Each of the 7 short chapters has a “love letter from God” which helps kids understand the WHY behind the events of Easter.
See more about how I’ve used this book here.