Lent comes early this year. That means it’s time to think about ways to help children enter into the liturgical season and prepare their hearts for Easter.

Helping children to take small steps into the realms of prayer and sacrifice can make a big difference in little lives.

So, too, reading wonderful books about Easter, while on the Lenten path, can help kids to anticipate and develop a better understanding of the glories of the Resurrection, the heart and joy of our Catholic faith.


Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day

Written by Carol Benoist and
Cathy Gilmore

Illustrated by Jonathan Sundy

I.H.S. Publishing, 2012

40 pages, $15.95

In this fanciful book, a little rabbit tells the tale of how he became the Easter Bunny. Recalling the fears of his youth, the furry narrator tells the story of his scariest three days — a time when the sky turned black, and he fled to the safety of a dark cave, only to be sealed inside for three days. He then gives a bunny-eyed view of time spent with Jesus’ shrouded body and the miraculous warmth and light of the Resurrection. Jesus’ presence and kind words reassure the bunny, "I knew I’d never be afraid again." This enchanting story offers a very child-appropriate look at Jesus’ death and resurrection and provides a terrific tool for linking secular traditions with sacred truth. Ages 4-8.


That Easter Morn

Written by Jean Tisserand

Translated by John Mason Neale

Illustrated by Chi Chung

Concordia, 2007

26 pages, $13.99

"O sons and daughters of the King, / Whom heav’nly hosts in glory sing, / Today the grave has lost its sting. / Alleluia!" The lyrics of this 15th-century hymn are given new life in this colorful picture book. Words and illustrations trace the story of Christ’s resurrection, his appearance to the disciples and the establishment of the Church. The full hymn and accompanying musical score are provided. Ages 4-8.


My First Easter

Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Grossett & Dunlap, 2008

12 pages, $5.99

Lillies, bunnies, eggs and bonnets — the symbols of Easter are all around us. In simple words and inviting pictures, this book introduces little ones to the signs of the season. The sturdy board-book format makes it right for the youngest readers. Ages 1-5.

The Three Trees

Written by Gabriel Ringlet

Translated by Wendy Brennan

Illustrated by Daniella Oh

Pauline, 2008

28 pages, $8.95

Three young saplings dream of what their futures might hold. The first tree wants to be carved into a chest that carries precious cargo. The second one hopes to be made into a great ship that will transport royalty. Meanwhile, the third one dreams of only being tall and strong so it can be close to God. Eventually, the trees all realize their dreams, as each is crafted into something that is close to the very heart of Jesus: The first becomes the manger that holds the precious Christ Child; the second becomes the boat in which Jesus and the disciples cross the stormy sea; the third becomes the cross on which Jesus was crucified. This Lebanese folktale is an inspiring and thought-provoking story for young and old alike. Ages 4 and up.


The Story of Easter: Read and Share

Retold by Gwen Ellis

Illustrated by Steve Smallman

Tommy Nelson, 2007

32 pages, $7.99

A baker’s dozen of short stories chronicles Jesus’ last days on earth. Told simply, each story helps the youngest of readers to imagine the events leading to Christ’s suffering and death, resurrection and ascension. In "Jesus Rides Like a King," for example, children can easily see the palm branches waving and hear the sounds of that special day. ("The donkey started to clippity-clop.") Questions, interspersed throughout the book, encourage shared talk between parent and child. Scriptural references accompany the colorfully illustrated stories. Ages 3 and up.


The Donkey That No One Could Ride

Written by Anthony DeStefano

Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

Harvest House Publishers, 2012

32 pages, $15.99

"There once was a donkey — young, weak and small, so weak he could carry nothing at all." So begins this tender tale of the donkey chosen to carry Jesus into Jerusalem. Teased and scorned all his life, the hapless donkey begs Christ to find another, more-able donkey for the mission. The weaker one is, Christ assures him, the more help God gives. This is a tale of faith in Christ, hope in the future and the unbounded love of God. Outstanding illustrations, coupled with a rhymed text, will make this a story children will want to hear again and again. Ages 3 and up.


My Storytime Bible

Written by Renita Boyle

Illustrated by Melanie Florian

Pauline Books & Media, 2011

141 pages, $15.95

What better book to read for the Good News of Easter than the Bible. And, for kids, this Bible offers large, engaging illustrations, paired with the well-told, favorite stories of Holy Week, Easter and beyond. Questions and encouragement set the stage for each story. "The Empty Tomb" asks, for example, "Has anyone ever promised you something that seemed impossible? Jesus keeps his promises." Promises kept — this is the true message of Easter. Ages 4 and older.

The Crawford sisters

write from Pittsburgh.