A young girl eagerly awaits a gift, only to be disappointed by it, casting it aside until Easter morning, when she comes to understand its beauty, as well the power of grace and forgiveness.
Young children play in a field where “white blossoms with bright yellow throats seems to sing a song of welcome” as “we celebrate God’s greatest gift to the world – his son, Jesus Christ.” Then, the story of Jesus’ final days unfolds, from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Resurrection and his commission for his disciples to “Go and spread the Gospel to the world…”
These are the storylines of two of my children and my favorite Easter read alouds. For, where some of the picture books in our Easter reading basket a bit too dramatic for my more sensitive young ones, A Child's Story of Easter and The Parable of the Lily are more gentle.
My oldest son told me he likes A Child's Story of Easter because it does not show Jesus dying on the cross, “only carrying it up to the hill.” My daughter likes it because it doesn’t show the soldiers hurting Jesus. I like it because it offers a full overview of the Easter story without the graphic detail that some picture books contain. (That said, I would feel remiss not to mention that very sensitive readers might still be disturbed by the illustration contained in the story of an angry Jesus with a whip driving the moneychangers from the temple as well as by the mention of the word “kill” in Jesus’ final days.) Indeed, the book includes:
- Jesus teaching his followers
- Jesus healing people
- Jesus entering Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
- Jesus driving the money changers from the temple.
- Judas deciding to betray Jesus.
- Jesus washing feet and sharing a meal with his disciples (The Last Supper)
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
- Jesus being killed
- Jesus being entombed
- Jesus rising
- the risen Jesus meeting his disciples
In other words, A Child's Story of Easter not only offers children a sensitive, yet complete view of the Easter story, but it also does so with text and illustrations that tie nicely into Sunday Gospel readings. Perfect!
The Parable of the Lily , on the other hand, does not directly speak about the Easter story. In fact, it does not ever mention Jesus directly except in Bible passages that are written in small font at the bottom of some pages. Rather, the book presents a memorable modern day parable about the true meaning of Easter. One that often has my daughter asking why “the little girl threw the bulb away” and commenting about how “everyone is happy again”, and one that, this morning, my son proclaimed that he liked because “they are happy because of God.”
With heartwarming illustrations, a captivating story, connected Bible verses and a strong message, The Parable of the Lily is a perfect, gentle introduction to the true meaning of Easter for young children.
As we let Lent happen, prepare for Easter and continue to encourage daily faith formation in our children’s lives, we find A Child's Story of Easter and The Parable of the Lily to be ideal resources. What are some for your favorite Easter reads for young ones?