Sunday, April 17, 2016

Our Mega List of Lent and Easter Read Alouds

Happy Fourth Sunday of Easter!

I know the Easter season still has weeks to go, but, I admit, I need to pare down the explosion of Easter books, eggs, decorations and whatnot in my home if I am ever going to move forward with a goal of mine (making our home less cluttered and more welcoming!)  For, while all the Easter goodies are delightful on their own, when layered atop the clutter that already existed in our house before the Lent and Easter seasons, seasonal stuff has just become too much.  Thus, tomorrow, we'll be returning baskets full of Lent and Easter books to the library and to our attic and will also be stashing away many of our eggs and other decorations for another year.

Before tucking away all our Easter things, however, I am spending some time doing what I say I will do every year, but, until now, have failed to do:  I am finally putting together a Mega List of our Lent and Easter Read Alouds to refer to in future years as I prepare for the seasons, and I have decided to share the list with you.

Of course, the list is a work in progress since I, admittedly, had to skip reading some of our favorite Lent and Easter books this year, because they are lost in the abyss of boxes, piles, and bins that call out to me from areas of our home that need help.  So, obviously, then, I will be updating this list in the future as I uncover more old favorites hiding in our home and discover new gems at the library and through others' recommendations.  To that end,  I'd welcome your suggestions for books to add to our Lent and Easter reading list.

Now, one final thing before I share our list:  Please be aware that I've included affiliate links in it so that you can easily find information about any book on the list which you want to learn more about.  These links, of course, also help my family out.  Any time you click through one and make a purchase, we may receive small compensation at no extra cost to you. The small earnings we might make go right back into training up our children and sharing about it here with you.  So, as always, we thank you for supporting us by stopping by to read, sharing our posts, and, if you have a purchase to make, considering doing so through our links.You can also, of course, source books from your local library, local new and used book stores, and various online sellers.  A local homeschool friend of mine just opened a new online used book store, New to You Books, which I'd recommend.  Just join her Facebook page and start finding great condition used books inexpensively.  She'll even search for titles for you as she and her husband go out on book gem-searching forays.  

Now, on with the list!

Versions of The Easter Story

Throughout the Lenten season, I typically read at least one picture book version of the Easter story each Saturday or Sunday so as to write the real story of Easter in my children's hearts, offering them a variety of images and interpretations to latch onto, compare, and contrast.  I also read such stories by request at other times during Lent and Easter and, of course, read straight from the Bible, too.  I am always looking for beautifully illustrated versions of the Easter story told from unique points of view or in ways that make them accessible to my particular children or to children we see at various homeschool meet ups.  These are some of the Easter story picture books I turn to:

A Child's Easter is a book we have taken out of our library for several years running.  I would love our own hardcover copy of it and am holding out one more year, looking to find a used copy locally before just paying shipping to purchase it online for a penny.  I just love how child-friendly this telling of the Easter story is.  It's told from a child's eyes, has gentle illustrations that do not frighten young ones, and is just fantastically put together.  It is one of my favorite books for sharing with multi-age crowds of children and I cannot recommend it enough.  We read it several times every year.

I spotted He Is Alive this year at a local library and decided to add it to our yearly read togethers.  This picture book takes readers through the last week of Jesus' life and his Resurrection with captivating illustrations that are not too disturbing for younger listeners and a hopeful message that obviously extends beyond the cross to remind readers that Jesus is alive.  If I can find an inexpensive hardcover copy locally, I might add it to our permanent home collection since it truly is well-done.

I just love how Fiona French illustrated Easter with bright stain-glass window like illustrations, which engage all ages and do not frighten sensitive children.  We get this book from the library every year and I so want to add it to our permanent home collection.  It just begs to be browsed again and again and inspires art projects.

Love One Another is another book we've taken out of the library for a few year.  It has bold illustrations that appeal to my children and tells the story of Jesus' last days and Resurrection with a focus on love, forgiveness, and hope, but without many of the details that some other retellings include.  Thus, although we like it and I would add a hardcover copy of this book to our permanent home collection if I found it for a good price locally.  I would not, however, recommend it to anyone who is looking for just one retelling of the Easter story, because, although it is good, it seems incomplete to me.

He Is Risen: The Easter Story is a book we usually take out of the library.  I like how the detailed illustrations in subdued colors in this book contrast with some of the brighter, bolder ones in other retellings of the Easter story.  I also find the language Bible-like (without being direct quotes from the Gospels), which means it is a good book for transitioning children ore used to storybooks to hearing Scripture.

I was excited the other day when a friend Jenn from New to You Books passed Journey to the Cross: The Complete Easter Story for Young Readers along to me.  I plan to make it the "spine" of our Lenten studies next yea, reading one of its 40 chapters each day.  In each chapter are references to the four Gospels, questions for discussion, a Scripture memory verse, personal application ideas, and of course, portions of the story of Jesus' last week and His Resurrection in chronological order.  So excited!

It cracks me up how my children still say, "My turn!  y turn!" when we read the simple board book Easter Surprise.  They each wan to be the one to lift the flaps in it.

The Easter Story is typically one to the first Easter story books I read during Lent since it begins at Christ's birth before moving forward to Holy Week and the Resurrection.  I also like that we never see Jesus' face in the beautiful illustrations.

The First Easter is the same exact story as The Easter Story, just formatted differently.  Both sell used for just a penny and either is recommended! 

We typically read Follow Me: Peter Lays Down His Net when we've noticed Peter in one of our Mass readings during Holy Week. One year, I intend to do an art activity with black ink and paint modeled after the illustrations in this book.  This one, too, can be had for just a penny used.

We read the simple and beautifully illustrated The Easter Cave during Holy Week.  One year, I am going to get it together to make one of those wonderful Easter gardens I see other folks making where grass grows or flowers bloom in time for Easter.  This book would pair wonderfully with such a garden.

The Story of Jesus is a book I have had since before I had my own children.  We tend to read it during the Advent and Christmas seasons, as well as several times during the Lent and Easter seasons.  It s a classic Little Golden Book that sells used for just a penny.

The Story of Easter board book is one of the first Easter stories we purchased for our children.  They still enjoy its simplicity.  It's well worth adding to any home collection for those with littles, especially since used copies sell for a penny.

The Story of the Cross is my favorite resource for stations of the cross with children. Year after year, we read it ourselves and share it with friends.  It is out of print now, I think, so if you ever see a copy of it at a reasonable price, snap it up!
Classic Tales

Through the years, there are some stories that become classic in our home.  No Easter season seems complete without reading them (or at least retelling them if we cannot find our copies of them among the piles in our home).  These are some of our favorites:


The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
was one of my favorite Easter books growing up and now it is the one book my children always ask for during the Lent and Easter seasons.  The love it so much, we no longer save it just for the night before Easter, when we used to read it and still do, but also read it throughout Lent a few times.  One year, we are going to make look-inside eggs like the one the Country Bunny gives to the little sick child in it.  Until then, we'll just savor it as we always do, reading it together and chatting about the examples of virtue, appreciation for life, etc. it.  Truly,  I cannot recommend this book enough and am excited to see that used copies of it sell for just a penny, so anyone an add it to their home collections.

Our second favorite annual Easter story is The Parable of the Easter Lily.  I purchased this book in hardcover years ago and we've enjoyed it every year since (except the years it got buried in the aforementioned abyss.)  It is such a beautiful parable about grace and forgiveness that reaches children and adults alike.  It also pairs well with paper lily making crafts and planting seeds.  Better still, used hardcopy versions of it sell for just a penny!

The Egg Tree is a classic tale that we like to read before dying our Easter eggs.  One of these years, the children would like to start the tradition of creating our own egg tree.  At just a penny for used hardcover and softcover versions of this book, I'd recommend adding it to anyone's collection.

After borrowing The Legend of the Easter Egg from the library for several years running, we finally got our own used copy at a local store.  We love how this story weaves in Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and other references.  My children and I delight in this story every year.

Other Faith-Based Finds

Easter is a non-fiction book we take out of the library every couple years.  It's well illustrated and offers a lot of information about he Easter story, celebrations and traditions of Easter around the world, etc.

in its Someone gave us a worn hardcover copy of The Flowering Cross, which we read this year and will be keeping to read in future years.  I liked its message of virtue and evangelization and my daughter would like to make a flowering cross in a future year.

One is the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure, a book we received for review, and, then, added to our seasonal book basket.  It, of course, pairs well with our Egglo glow-in-the-dark Easter eggs, with which we make our sensory-smart Holy Week eggs.

Just for Fun

I tend to focus most of our Lent and Easter reading on picture books that are classics or are overtly related to the religious significance of these holy seasons.  However, there are some books we read each year, because they have been gifted to us and the children enjoy them, or because they connect to themes like spring, chicks, bunnies, and eggs.  My children know well the "real reason" we celebrate Easter, but they also enjoy the cultural traditions of Easter eggs, etc.

Here are some of the books we read during this season just for fun:


We've owned Little Bunny Finger Puppet Book for some years and typically take it out around Easter.  It's a chunky board book with a puppet included that has nothing to do with Easter except for the cultural bunny connection.  After reading it, we sometimes play hide-and-seek like the bunny in the book by hiding ourselves or a stuffed toy. 

We've also owned Pooh's Easter Basket for a number of years. The kids have really gotten too old to get much out of this sweet, simple board book that focuses on color, but they still like to look through it, so I typically put it out right around when we'll be dying our Easter Eggs.  It's not a must-have book, but it is cute, and the little string at the top used to particularly appeal to my children when they were little as they could carry the book about by it.  With used copies going for but a penny, it can make a cute basket stuffer or gift for wee ones.

I cannot recall when we picked up a copy of Peter Cottontail and the Great Mitten Hunt, but we've enjoyed this Limited Edition Golden Book for a few years, at least.  The children find it amusing that the story weaves so many typical nursery characters into one story (little kittens, little pigs, Humpty Dumpty, the Old Woman in the Shoe, etc) and enjoy reading it before making their own egg hunts.  We also typically chat about vices like being distractable and virtues like helpfulness when we read it.

The Fuzzytail Friends' Great Egg Hunt is another book that has nothing to do with Easter besides a springtime theme of ducklings, eggs and lost/found eggs.  Again, my children are a bit "old" for this sweetly illustrated boardbook, but still enjoy it, so we take it out during the Easter season and, sometimes, it inspired child-led egg hunts.  As another book that sells for a penny, it's worth adding to a young child's collection.

Somewhere along the way, we picked up a worn copy of The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise, a fun rhyming tale with classic Bernstain Bears illustrations and style that inspired children in imaginative play and easily prompts discussions. You can find used copies of it for a mere penny

Bunny, Bunny is a simple first reader with darling illustration and large-font easy-to-read text that is only connected to Easter due to its bunny theme.  We got it from the library this year and one child was so proud to read it "by myself" that I know we'll be getting it out for a few more years to come.  If I had younger children, I'd invest in our own copy since this hardback book has such sweet illustrations.

An auntie gifted the kids with The Golden Egg some years back and they still like to follow the lovely illustrated creatures along in it, lifting flaps, to look for an egg.  It's not a must-have book, but, since we already have it, we enjoy it every year around egg hiding or dying time.  It is beautifully illustrated and interactive and available used for just a penny.


As I mentioned before, this Mega List is not a COMPLETE Mega List of Lent and Easter Read Alouds.  It is just a list of the pile I have sitting on my kitchen table and in my living room to put away for another year.  There are still more books that we typically read that we could not dig out of piles at home or that we already returned to the library because they came due.  Perhaps, I'll be able to make time to add those to this list sometimes before or just after next Lent begins.  Until then, I would love to hear your favorite Lent and Easter titles, for we always welcome the discovery of new gems to add to our liturgical season book baskets.

Truly, one of my favorite things to do is to toss a blanket on the lawn, cuddle up on the couch, or stretch out on a bed to read alongside my children.  We are so blessed to have access to such a rich feast of lovely Lent and Easter picture books!

What picture books have you been reading together with the children in your life?  Do share the titles, please!


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