Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The date of Easter is not fixed in the Gregorian or Julian calendars because the date for Easter is related to a lunisolar calendar.
There are three main customs of Easter celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians: Easter eggs, Easter bunny, and Easter hunt.
For Christians, Easter eggs are the symbol of the empty tomb. In modern days, the old tradition of dyed chicken eggs is sometimes substituted with candies such as jellybeans.
Easter Bunny is originated from Germany, and it became the trademark of Easter. Easter bunny delivers the baskets of treats to children, similar to Santa Clause on Christmas day.
Egg hunting is a fun game for children in which they look for the hidden Easter eggs. Typically, the hunted eggs are collected in a basket.
The customs of Easter mentioned above are introduced in a lot of books. Many books are reviewed, and best five books about Easter are selected. These five books introduce the customs of Easter effectively while delivering essential and helpful messages to our precious children. I hope these books nurture our children’s minds.
Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure
(Author: Kimberly Dean, James Dean, Illustrator: James Dean, Age range: 4~8 years)
On Easter, Pete was waiting for his basket of goodies. But on the basket he saw, there were no goodies but a note from the Easter Bunny, which said, “Find, paint, and hide eggs”. Pete wore the bunny ears left beside the basket and visited chickens for eggs.
The chickens gave eggs while advising Pete to wear the bunny nose and bunny tail. After wearing both of them, Pete visited toolshed to paint the eggs. Then, Pete hid the eggs in several places, as the note said.
When he finished the task, the Easter Bunny arrived. The Easter Bunny thanked Pete and gave Pete an award of “#1 Helper”.
Pete the Cat is a popular character to a lot of children. Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure introduces three customs of Easter (Easter egg, Easter bunny, and Easter hunt) effectively while adding a new character of Pete the Cat.
All the characters in the book are helping others: Pete helped the Easter Bunny willingly when the Easter Bunny asked Pete for help, and the chickens also helped Pete with pleasure. Note that the Easter Bunny showed his appreciation to Pete afterward. Our children can learn positive messages from this book.
Thomas and the Easter Eggs
(Author & Illustrator: Golden Books, Age range: 2~5 years)
It was springtime. One day, Sir Topham Hatt asked Thomas the Tank Engine to visit the harbor and do some heavy pulling over there.
The day before the Easter egg hunt, Thomas saw Terence the Tractor (an orange crawler) was pulling a trailer of the Easter eggs. The eggs were painted with beautiful colors. While turning, Terence rolled onto its side, and hundreds of the Easter eggs rolled down the hill and scattered around.
Terence thought that the Easter egg hunt on the next day would be in jeopardy. Then, Thomas thought of a brilliant idea. On Easter day, Thomas took all the children to the spot where all the Eggs are scattered. Then, he told the children to find the eggs. All the children had a lot of fun while looking for the Easter eggs.
The book was published by Golden Books. Golden books played essential roles in the history of children’s book publication since its launch in 1942. Since Golden books published a large volume of picture books, a lot of picture books could be accessible to many children all over the world at an affordable price. Thomas has been one of the most popular characters for children created by Golden Books.
In the book, Thomas had no idea what the Easter egg hunt was in the beginning. By reading or listening to the conversation between Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt, our children may feel superior to Thomas.
Easter Egg hunt is the main theme of this book. When the Easter egg hunt was in jeopardy by losing all of them, Thomas thought of a brilliant idea of letting the children find all the eggs.
I believe that the way this incident was handled can give children an important message: when something is in trouble, the flip side of it can be an opportunity. It may give our children a positive attitude when they are in difficulty.
Clifford’s Happy Easter
(Author & Illustrator: Norman Ray Bridwell, Age range: 3~5 years)
Emily Elizabeth and her dog, Clifford, love spring, and especially Easter. Emily remembered that she had dyed the eggs with many beautiful colors last spring.
In Emily’s dream, Clifford fell into a giant tub of dye, and his fur changed to many colors such as bright green, sunshine yellow, red, white, and blue. Additionally, Emily drew a lot of patterns on Clifford.
When Emily woke up on the Easter day, she did the Easter egg hunt. A lot of places were looked up, such as on tree branches, under a bench, around a bridge, etc. A lot of eggs were found and shared with all the friends.
Clifford’s Happy Easter is written by Norman Bridwell (1928~2014). He has created the character of a big red dog named Clifford. In an interview, Norman Bridwell once mentioned that he had created the character of Clifford from his childhood memory. One day, he saw a dog as big as a horse. Later, he thought that it would be funny to create a dog character as big as a horse. Eventually, he created a dog character a lot bigger than even a horse. It is as big as a dinosaur.
In the book, everyone is smiling, including Clifford. Easter’s three main customs (Easter eggs, Easter Bunny, and Easter hunt) are not the main focus of this book. Still, the book delivers the message of sharing while it is fun-reading. Many colors and patterns are also illustrated.
Here Comes the Easter Cat
(Author: Deborah Underwood, Illustrator: Claudia Rueda, Age range: 3~5 years)
On the first page, a happy-looking cat saw the picture of the Easter Bunny. Then, he looked grumpy because of the Easter Bunny. The cat was jealous of the Easter Bunny. Then, the narrator suggested to the cat how about delivering some presents to children himself. The cat agreed, and he brought a motorcycle for the delivery.
Then, he realized that the Easter Bunny’s delivery to millions of children is hard work. When the Easter Bunny came to give an Easter egg, the bunny looked very tired. The cat brought a sidecar and let the Easter Bunny nap in it while he was doing the delivery.
Here Comes the Easter Cat is authored by Deborah Underwood (1962~). She has authored more than twenty picture books, including Interstellar Cinderella and The Quiet Book (selected as New York Times bestseller).
The way she narrated this book is unique. There is a non-verbal communication between the cat and the narrator (or a reader). The cat is holding a picture which changes throughout the book. The cat never says anything, but he is looking at the narrator. He only shows several pictures with his facial expression.
The layout and graphics of this book are exceptional. Each page is mostly filled with empty background. When the pages are turned, there are pencil-illustrations on one side and a short comment by the narrator on the other side. The empty background provides a feeling of comfort to the readers.
The facial expressions of the cat on each page will make children imagine what the content is about. Even without reading a short narration, the reader can imagine what the cat is thinking. Imagining what the facial expression of the cat indicates can be a lot of fun for children.
The book delivers several important messages to children through fun-reading, as shown below.
The cat asks, “why is it always Easter Bunny? Why not Easter Cat?”. To children, this question can be a shift of thought. Children who are already familiar with Easter Bunny may think that what they have learned can be expandable to a new territory. The book encourages children to expand their imagination. To me, it is not presumptuous to say that this book is about a paradigm shift.
Respect for others:
The book shows that some easy-looking tasks such as delivering the Easter eggs to many children are often painstaking tasks. The book shows that we need to respect other people and what they do.
After finding out that delivering is a hard job and the bunny is very tired, the cat tries to help the bunny by letting him nap in the sidecar. It is a thoughtful consideration for someone in need.
I highly recommend this book to our children. Even grown-ups will enjoy reading this book.
The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story
(Author & Illustrator: Mike Berenstain, Jan Berenstain, Age range: 4~7 years)
In Bear country, there were Brother, Sister, and Honey Bears. On Easter, they went to Sunday school with their parents. What was in their minds was nothing but Easter candies. Then, Sunday school teacher, Missus Ursula, explained that Easter had more meanings than candies. Also, she announced that there would be a play called “The Easter Story”.
All three bears watched the play about the life of Jesus Christ. The play explained the miracles, arrest, trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus. After watching the play, three bears realized that Easter is a lot more than candies.
The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story is authored and illustrated by both Mike Berenstain (1951~) and his mother, Jan Berenstain (1923~2012).
The book explains what Easter is about with quite a detail. Children can learn what Easter is and what is to be celebrated. Introducing the life of Jesus and the meaning of Easter through the play seems to be an excellent idea.