Best Easter Books For Catholic Kids, 2020
Here's my 2020 offering of Easter Books for Catholic Kids. They are quite a diversified lot, but they all talk about more than Easter eggs and bunnies - which doesn't mean that these are traditional Easter symbols are excluded. The books in this post, in their different ways, talk about the events underlying our great Feast of feasts, the life-giving Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They also talk about how we sinners participate in this event in different ways as we struggle to emerge from the tomb of our sins into the light of resurrection.
Into The Sea, Out Of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus by Maura Roan McKeegan, illustrated by T. Schluenderfritz, teaches children biblical typology. On first glance, the story of Jonah may not seem like an Easter book but when we look at Jonah's emergence from the whale as a type, a foreshadowing of Jesus' Resurrection from the tomb, we will show our children how the story of Easter was already foretold in the Old Testament.
Recommended for ages seven and up.
"The Sacred Flame" is one of the beautiful Christian legends retold masterfully by Selma Lagerlof, the Swedish author who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Price in literature. You can find the story in the wonderful collection titled The Emperor's Vision And other Christ Legends.
The Sacred Flame tells the Italian legend of selfish braggard Raniero di Raniero of medieval Florence who joins the crusaders to show off his prowess in the battle for Jerusalem. Challenged by the story of a jester, he embarks on a journey carrying a candle lit from the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre back to Florence. On this journey, Raniero is not only stripped of his possessions but also of his pride. He arrives in Florence as a humble beggar, perceived as a fool and ridiculed by the people. It is Easter, and the sacred flame is still alight. This is a beautifully told legend about the Holy Fire which miraculously ignites candles in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem every Holy Saturday and which has in recent years been carried to Catholic and Orthodox parishes all over the world. Ages ten and up.
Margaret's First Holy Week by Jon M. Sweeney, illustrated by Roy Deleon, shows us Holy Week and Easter at he Vatican through the eyes of Margaret, Pope Francis' fictional cat. Margaret learns about the liturgical preparations for the greatest feast of Christendom and children learn along with her. This is a wonderful and educational tour through the Vatican during Holy Week, especially significant at this time when even the very center of the Catholic Church is closed to the faithful.
Grades Kindergarten to five.
Anna And The One Mass by Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones, pictured here in the text-only-version, presents an ingenious way of showing children the mystical connection of each Mass celebrated in time to the eternal Mass perpetuallly celebrated by Our Lord Himself. Anna does not want to go to Easter Mass with her family because it is long and boring and because she misses her recently deceased Nanna. When the girl slips under the pew to play, she is transported to the catacombs where she meets her Nanna who accompanies her across time barriers to the places talked about in the readings of the Mass. She is pursued by Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea, sings the psalms with the Israelites, meets St. Paul writing a letter on a ship and finally is invited to the banquet table by Jesus Himself. I especially love the meeting of Anna and her three siblings who were miscarried and are fully grown in Heaven. Unfortunately, the large, beautiful picture book edition is out of print, but you can see and hear Deacon Patrick read his book on YouTube:
The Story of Saint Mary Magdalene and the First Easter Egg by Laura Wagner is a retelling of an ancient legend behind the Eastern Christian custom of dying eggs red on Holy Saturday. This story is one of the great body of Christian legendary material imbuing pagan festal traditions with Christian meaning. The egg is, of course, naturally the great symbol of life emerging from the tomb.
The Resurrection of Christ by Elena Trostnikova, illustrated by Olga Podivilova is the Easter offering from the "Orthodox Scripture and Feasts for Children" series. The book teaches the basic theology of the feast to young children using the East's traditional teaching tool for those who cannot read, the icon. Solid, simple and beautiful.
Last not least, a board book for the littlest Catholics. The Story of Easter by George Brundage is a fun St. Joseph-Carry-Me-Along board book with cute illustrations telling the basic story of the Passion and Resurrection in traditional Catholic terms.
Blessed Pascha! Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen! (bells are ringing noisily in the background..)
You may also be interesed in our 2019 Easter posts. the first post contains a review of the greatest Easter picture book ever, Caryll Houselander's Petook, illustrated by the late Tomie de Paola. May his memory be eternal!