In this episode we look at some Christ-centered Easter books for kids of all ages. Three are new this year and come from three authors we’ve interviewed on “Books that Spark” before: Josie Siler, Laura Sassi, and Glenys Nellist.
Books Discussed in This Episode:
Transcript with Links:
Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. I’m so glad you joined us today. I like to collect books and put them in a little basket and have them available for when children visit our home. And whenever we can sit down and just read some books together, and also to think about what books you might want to put in your children’s Easter basket this year. And maybe you want to put Easter books in there, or maybe you want to put some classic books like Winnie the Pooh or Charlotte’s Web, or one of those in there, or some of the great picture books we’ve talked about on some of our other episodes. But I especially want to emphasize three books today because three of the people we’ve interviewed on this podcast had Easter books come out this year just recently.
The first one is Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw. And this is by Josie Siler and illustrated by Sebastien Braun. This is the great story of a little donkey who can’t Hee-Haw like other donkeys. He feels defective and useless, and yet Jesus chooses him as the donkey He will ride on for the triumphal entry. It’s just a really beautiful little book, especially for children who feel that maybe they aren’t good enough for God to use them. Maybe they deal with special needs or a chronic illness or something like that. It’s just such a sweet, sweet book.
And then there’s a really adorable board book that came out written by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Ela Jarzabek. And it’s called Bunny Find Easter. And this is just a wonderful little board book. I love it because the main character is a bunny, and so you think, “Oh, it’s a typical Easter story” when you look at the cover because it shows a little bunny with an Easter basket and eggs, but the emphasis of this book is completely the gospel, and it’s really beautifully done. The illustrations are just adorable. “Bunny wakes. Hip hip hooray! Let’s celebrate–it’s Easter Day. ‘But what is Easter?'” And so she goes on this journey to figure out what Easter is. And as she’s looking, of course, it covers all the different little traditions that we have for Easter. And she understands finally, what Easter is all about from the message at church.
And then Glenys Nellist, who we’ve interviewed a few times on our podcast, had a new book come out called Snuggle Time Easter Stories, illustrated by Cee Briscoe. And this one’s a beautiful story too. It’s very poetic and has a lot of scripture through it. Each page has a different rhyme on it. We have “Easter Song,” “Easter Story,” “The Donkey.” So they’re poems that tell the different parts of the true Easter story of Jesus’ life, his arrest, burial, resurrection, and then Mary telling the story that He has risen. And it even talks about the breakfast on the beach. And Jesus is with you. It says: “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the son of God” (John 20:31). “When Jesus had gone back to heaven, his friends wrote what they knew. Their words are in the Bible. They’re written just for you. And as you read his story of how Jesus lived and died, know that He is with you, and He’ll never leave your side.” And then the last one is “A Song of Hope.” It’s beautiful, beautiful little board book. These are three books that have just come out from three people we’ve had on the podcast. So I wanted to start with those. I think they’re wonderful for any Easter basket.
But then the other books I really wanted to talk about too, I’ve mentioned before the series of books, Tales that Tell the Truth, (that it’s hard to say) Tales that Tell the Truth. There’s two in particular in this series that I want to emphasize today. And I have talked about them before. One is The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross: The True Story of Why Jesus Died and Rose Again written by Carl Laferton, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. And this tells from the fall through Jesus’ resurrection, and the illustrations are really beautiful. And a second book by the same people, Carl Laferton and Catalina Echeverri is The God Contest. And this is the true story of Elijah, Jesus, and the greatest victory. Both of these share the gospel very clearly. They give you scripture to look at with your children. The illustrations are very well-done, and it shares the gospel message very clearly in both of them. The first one deals specifically with the gospel, from the creation through Jesus, why He had to come, why He had to die, and that He rose again. And it ends by talking about how we will be in heaven someday and the joy of all of that–of being able to be with Jesus in heaven. It’s just wonderful. It shares so much good theology in a way that children can understand and grasp the gospel. And then The God Contest shares the wonderful story of Elijah on Mount Carmel. And then Jesus came,, and I love this one illustration after they share about his death, burial and resurrection. And oh my goodness, it’s so good. Then there’s this wonderful spread toward the end of the book. And it says, “Jesus rose back to life. Jesus had a body that worked. Jesus could live forever. The God contest was over. Now. Lots of people knew that Jesus was the real God. The only God. The God who made everything and rules everywhere and loves everyone and could give them life forever. Now lots of people said, Jesus is Yahweh. Jesus is God. Now lots of people joined team Jesus.” But in this illustration, it starts out–she’s drawn Phoebe Thomas, and it goes through history and it shows George Whitefield and Hudson Taylor. Then it goes further Amy Carmichael, and you see Elizabeth Elliot and Francis Schaffer. And then it shows some children from like the 21st century. And so I love that. It shows that throughout history, there have been people who followed Jesus and who believed in Him and that we each have that choice of whether or not to believe in Jesus and join His team. It just really calls children to that point of which team am I on? Do I believe that God is real? Or do I believe that Jesus is who He said He was and that He died for my sins. And it gives that opportunity for children to decide. So it’s really, really well done. Any books in this series, I have been very impressed with. They are so well done. There are 10 books in the series. They just really do a great job of retelling Bible stories. Each of them at the end of the book has all the scriptures that you can look up together as a family and read together, go straight to the word of God. And so I love that it’s really, really beautiful.
And then one more wonderful book for sharing the gospel is called The Promise: The Amazing Story of Our Long-Awaited Savior. And this is written by Jason Helopoulos and illustrated by Rommel Ruiz. The illustrations are very unique in this book. They almost have a graphic novel feel to them. They kind of, I don’t know. It’s just very unusual. I really like it. Let me give you kind of a feel for how this book approaches salvation. It says: “In the beginning, God was there and God created the heavens and the earth.” And it goes through the whole creation story. And then it goes through the fall of man, but it says, “But God gave mankind a promise. And what a great promise it was–the promise of salvation. He promised that one would come, who would crush the head of the lying serpent. One who would deliver mankind from their sin. One who would restore man and woman’s relationship with God. Who will this one be?” And then it says “Maybe a good man could save us.” And so it talks about Noah and then no, he failed. He sinned and “Maybe a great man of faith” and “Maybe a great prophet.” And it shows each of these people throughout the Bible who were great judges, great Kings and great people, but they all failed. They all sinned and fell short of God’s glory until, of course, Jesus came. And He was the perfect king, the perfect high priest, the perfect great man, the perfect prophet. And it also mentions trying to get right with God by our works, by following the law, by making sacrifices. And that none of those really did that. And that Jesus was even the great sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice. And so it really shows who Jesus was and how He fulfilled the law so completely in coming to earth and dying for us, rising again. So, it doesn’t outline like the holy week, but it deals with the true message of the scriptures and the gospel in who Jesus is. Then it brings us to the cross and to the resurrection and to that decision: “Do you know this Promised One? Have you trusted in Him so that you are friends with God?” And then it has all the key Bible passages for family reading at the end and just takes you through the entire gospel message, the entire Bible. It’s just a very unique and beautiful book.
So these last three, if you have children that are a little bit older, these would be great to read with them. They’re all three picture books, so they’re geared toward young children. But I think they are so beautiful and well-done, they will captivate children up through even middle school, especially this last one. The unique illustrations, I think, would really appeal to a little bit older children. And as we come into this time, Easter and next week is Palm Sunday, I just love this time of year. Not only because of the gospel, but just to really share with our children the traditions we have and why we have them, why we do what we do–to really talk about the gospel and to nail down any questions they have, let them ask questions and to think through the gospel story, to really kind of settle things in their own mind. I think each time we share the gospel with our kids, it should not be like we’re preaching at them or memorizing a story, but that, that story should unfold and become more alive to them with each passing year. And that our traditions should be more than just the habits we do each year, but the significance of them should become more and more real to our children. So I think if we can be really conscious about that, to make those traditions come alive and have meaning for our children, then they can embrace them for themselves and carry on the traditions that have meaning for them and can make a difference in their lives.
So today I want to end with a devotional from Charles Stanley’s Every Day with Jesus: 365 Devotions for Kids. And this is from April 2nd. “Jesus’ Great Love.” “We were spiritually dead because of the things we did wrong against God, but God gave us new life with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:5).
“Jesus, the Son of God, chose to die on the cross for you. Just think about that. Jesus could have said no. After all, crucifixion was the most horrible way to die. It was completely humiliating and terribly painful. It was the death given to only the worst criminals, but there was something even more painful for Jesus than the shame or the beatings or the nails. For the first time in all eternity, Jesus was separated from God, His Father. That was His greatest suffering. Why would Jesus choose that kind of death? The answer is simple: because that’s how much He loves you. Jesus would rather suffer through the cross than be separated from you. So the next time you’re feeling unloved or not good enough, remember all that Jesus did because He loves you and wants you by His side forever.”
“Jesus. Sometimes it’s hard to believe You chose to die on the cross to save me, but I’m so very grateful that You did, amen.
“Today with Jesus: Remember all He went through just to be with you.”
And I think that’s such a wonderful realization for us all to realize is that the whole story from the beginning to the end is because God wanted a relationship with us. And I hope, too, that we can be aware. There are a lot of people who are saying that God was a child abuser by sacrificing His son. We need to help our children realize Jesus was there at the creation. He was there from the beginning. John 1:1 tells us that–even that He was the One who created, and He knew from the beginning what He needed to do, and He chose to do it. He was not forced by His Father to be a sacrifice. Jesus had the plan with the Father, the Trinity of God, the One True God had the plan from the beginning and knew what He was going to have to do because He knew we were going to fail.
We don’t surprise Him by anything that we do wrong. He knows. He knows everything. He knows our hearts, the motives of our hearts, the desires of our hearts. And He knows that our hearts and minds are deceitful and that we choose to do wrong all the time. And yet, while we were sinners, He chose to die for us. That is so important, especially with all that is being said in our culture today–that we help our children realize that He willingly died for us, that God raised Him from the dead, victorious over sin and death so that we can have a relationship with God. Our brokenness, our sin, our rebellion did not stop God’s plan. I think if we can grasp that, and we can keep sharing that with our children, then it is a blessing. It is truly good news to know that we have hope and a future because as of what Jesus did on the cross and what He did through His resurrection.
Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like join my mailing list or reach out to me in any way you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. You can sign up on my website for my newsletter and for freebies that you can get when you do sign up. Remember to like, share, subscribe to this podcast. It helps others find us. It helps move us up in the numbers and all of that so that more people can be aware of this podcast. Share it with your friends. We would love for you to do that. We appreciate you doing that. God bless you. And thank you for being a part of “Books that Spark.”
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.
Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.
Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.
Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.
Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.