While there may not be as many children’s books for Easter with an ardent following as there are for Christmas, I nonetheless have quite a few favorites from my childhood. These five still bring me a smile and are a wonderful way to celebrate the season with little ones.
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by DuBose Heyward
This is one of my favorite children’s books and is thus easily my favorite Easter book. Though children often refer to “the Easter Bunny,” there are actually five Easter Bunnies, and this is the tale of a very unlikely country bunny who grows up to realize her dream of hopping all over the world with beautiful eggs for little boys and girls. Her ingenuity as a single mother of 21 children is inspiring, and her spunk and perseverance in the face of patronizing city bunnies and demeaning male chauvinists does not make her any less a lady, one who is most importantly “wise, and kind, and swift,” as every Easter Bunny must be.
Miss Fannie’s Hat, by Jan Karon
Bestselling author Jan Karon is perhaps best known for “The Mitford Years” series, but growing up in our house, it was for her whimsical picture book of Miss Fannie, a plucky 99-year-old with a closet full of hats! She loves them all, but her favorite is one of pink straw with silk roses that she has worn on Easter Sunday for the past 35 years. When her minister asks her to donate one of her precious hats to the church auction, choosing which one to part with is not an easy task.
“My grandmother, Miss Fannie, was so wonderful I wanted to share her with everyone,” says Jan Karon. “I wrote Miss Fannie’s Hat to give both children and adults a sense of family, to give them the grandmother or great-grandmother they never had, or always wished they had. Briefly, the story is about sacrifice — and the rewards that can come when we give with a willing heart.”
Alice in Bibleland: The Story of Easter, by Alice Joyce Davidson
This delightful series, which takes Alice through dozens of Bible stories, is now out of print but available through various sources online. The Story of Easter was always one of my favorites. Alice, as always, receives a special note from the airmail bird just as she sits down with her Bible storybook with the message, “Reading is the magic key to take you where you want to be.” She then steps through the pages of her Bible to watch the original story play out. The rhyming poetry through which the story is told makes it memorable for children, and the beautiful full-page illustrations on each page truly do bring the story to life.
Benjamin’s Box, by Melody Carlson
Benjamin is a little Jewish boy who lives in the bustling city of Jerusalem. His greatest possession is a treasure box left to him by his grandfather, a shepherd. Benjamin hopes to fill it with real treasures, but all it has in it so far is some straw from the bed of a baby who, according to his grandfather, would grow up to be a king. As the story progresses, Benjamin fills his box with various treasures commemorating Jesus’ last week on earth — a tuft of donkey fur, a broken cup, a leather strip, a thorn, a nail, and finally, a bit of stone. The book can be used in conjunction with FamilyLife’s Resurrection Eggs or enjoyed like any other book.
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
While not strictly an Easter story, The Velveteen Rabbit is a fantastic classic to pull out this time of year since it is one of the most famous and beloved tales featuring a bunny … and the boy who loved him enough to make him “Real.” This heartwarming tale grips young and old alike with the transformative power of love to create life where there is none and for a creature to be reborn into a new creation. In fact, to become “Real” through the supernatural power of redemptive love is the hope offered to us all through the miracle of Easter.