As yummy as they are, the marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies and decorated eggs in children’s baskets must play second fiddle to the glorious story of Jesus’ rising from the dead on Easter morning.

But sometimes it’s hard to explain the greatest story ever told to young children, isn’t it? After all, Easter Sunday only makes sense if Our Lord’s suffering precedes it. Jesus couldn’t bypass Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday, and neither can we.

While children will experience the chronology of Easter by participating in the liturgies of Lent, Holy Week and the triduum, let’s face it: They’ll still have questions. These books can help parents unpack the answers in a satisfying, faith-formative way.

The eggs, Peeps and bunnies can then signal that there’s something more serious to celebrate than a giant rabbit doling out goodies: the promise of eternal life that the resurrected Christ brings to the world.

Rejoice! Jesus is alive! Alleluia! Alleluia!


written by Kathleen Long Bostrom

illustrated by Ana Martin Larranaga

ZonderKidz , 2005

24 pages, $6.99

Available in bookstores

The children eagerly await Jesus as he enters Jerusalem. (“Donkey, donkey trot so proud / Bearing Jesus through the crowd.”) This chunky board book captures for the preschool crowd the excitement of the first Palm Sunday. (“Shout, ‘Hosanna!’ Clap and sing / Welcome, welcome, to the King.”) With fewer than 150 words, the book is the right size for toddlers. Large illustrations gleam with foil highlights, and dye-cut shapes make it easy for little fingers to explore. Ages 4 and under.


written by Mary Joslin

illustrated by Helen Cann

Good Books, 2006

28 pages, $16

Available in bookstores

This excellent retelling of the Easter story begins on Palm Sunday (“The children clapped their hands and waved palm branches. … The grown-ups were equally thrilled.”) and ends with the Resurrection. (“The dark power of death was defeated. … God’s own love lit the world on that Easter morning.”) The story simplifies but never strays from the essentials, including the high points of the Last Supper. Imaginative, but true to the Easter story, the illustrations can stand on their own as a guide for readers whose attention span might end before the winsome and informative text does. Ages 4 to 8.


written by Jan Godfrey

illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski

Pauline, 2008

28 pages, $14.95

To order: (800) 836-9723

Through the eyes and ears of Ben, readers journey with Jesus. “Along the road, along the road, the road to Easter Day” introduces each stop on the way. The young boy in the yarmulke looks and listens as Jesus enters Jerusalem, becomes angry in the Temple, shares a special meal with his friends, and dies on the cross. The story seems to end there, but it continues. Ben goes to the cave given by Joseph of Arimathea for Jesus’ burial. He sees that the great stone has been rolled away and hears the women say, “Jesus is alive.” “[T]he road from Easter Day” takes Ben to the village of Emmaus, where he witnesses an unexpected wonder. Ages 5 to 8.


An Easter Alphabet

and Activity Book

written by Debbie Trafton O’Neal

illustrated by Jan Bryan-Hunt

Augsburg, 2006

32 pages, $11.99

Available in bookstores

Embedded ABCs in a rhyming text acquaint young readers with Holy Week and Easter. For example, the double-spread page for “I” and “J” reads: “On Passover evening, they were invited to eat, and Jesus their friend knelt to wash off their feet.” Folk-art illustrations accompany this Easter alphabet. Comes with instructions for four craft projects to help families celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. Ages 4 to 8.


A Ukranian Celebration of

New Life in Christ

written by Virginia Kroll

illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

ZonderKidz, 2007

40 pages, $15.99

Available in bookstores

Easter will not be the same this year for Anya: Her Papa is fighting in the war. The little girl of the Ukraine and her family are too poor to buy eggs. This means there will be no pysanky eggs for her and Mama to decorate and give to family and friends with the greeting, “Christ is risen!” Anya’s discovery of an abandoned nest of goose eggs encourages her to plan a surprise for her family.

A knock on the door on Easter morning reveals a far better surprise than Anya ever hoped for — a surprise, she believes, God gave to her in this season of new beginnings. A guide to pysanky and popular symbols used for decorating is included. Ages 4 to 8.


written by Carol Wedeven

illustrated by Len Ebert

Concordia, 2001

28 pages, $6.99

Available in bookstores

In the cadence of “This Is the House That Jack Built,” this Easter treat opens with Joseph of Arimathea (“This is the cave the friend gave.”), steps back in time to the passion and death of Christ, and then revisits the empty cave. (“These are the friends with good news to bring / That heard the angel on shining wing / That rolled the stone, a giant thing …”) Simple repetitive verse creates an age-appropriate Easter story that children can easily echo or tell. Ages 4 to 8.


Written and illustrated by

Jennifer Galvin

Paulist Press, 2003

32 pages, $6.95

To order: (800) 218-1903

Spanning the time between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost, this resource helps kids learn about the meaning of the season in a way that is more fun than work. Dot-to-dot puzzles, mazes, scrambled words, hidden codes and color-by-number worksheets reveal symbols, traditions and triduum practices (the washing of the feet; Stations of the Cross; veneration of the cross; Easter Vigil). An Emmaus maze, Ascension coloring page and Pentecost word games round out the 30 reproducible activity pages. Ages 7 to 10.

The Crawford sisters

write from Pittsburgh.