Easter is a harder story to tell than the Christmas story, but really vital as it is central to our faith. There’s so much detail, so many layers of meaning and relevance, it’s sometimes hard to know what to leave in and what to leave out. For under 5s, it’s important to remember where they are at developmentally, including their engagement with stories and with Jesus. Those who have heard the story at age 1 and 2 might be ready for more detail and discussion of the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection at 3 than a child hearing it for the first time. And, as with all stories, it’s great to provide ways for the children to ‘play’ with the story, whether than be with a play dough Easter garden, story stones, toys or Duplo.
If you, like me, like to start with a book, here’s some suggestions:
For babies and toddlers, I’d recommend The Easter Bible Storybook. It’s a board book which tells the story of Easter focusing on the resurrection of Jesus. For toddlers and preschoolers, The Big Bible Storybook has a brilliant re-telling over a number of pages, again focusing on the resurrection stories.
We also have The Jesus Storybook Bible which focuses more on the details of Jesus’ arrest and death, including explanations about why Jesus died, making it more appropriate for preschool children age 4 and up (as it says on the cover).
The story is also worth reading from the Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with it’s beautiful, diverse African illustrations, including an African Last Supper. For a long while, the death and resurrection stories in this Bible were my daughter’s favourite (age 3).
We’ve also recently found the QED My First Bible Stories series (currently £11.99 for 12 books!) by Katherine Sully with wonderful illustrations by Simona Sanfilippo, which include The Easter Story and The Last Supper (an unusual but helpful story to find in a stand alone book). These have a better words to pictures ratio than the others mentioned here, which make it more accessible to younger who like turning pages. They also stick pretty closely to the Biblical account, without adding interpretation, which I like, as it leaves space for us to build our theology (thinking about God) together as a family with wondering questions (“I wonder what Jesus meant when He said that?” “I wonder why that happened?” “I wonder what this story means to us?”) The last page has a list of ways to explore the story which are more story exploration than faith exploration, which is a good place to start. This page also includes a “What does the story tell us?” with an answer (!!) which I don’t agree with, but then you don’t have to read the page out loud!
And there’s the lovely little Happy Easter book from Scripture Union, written by the lovely Sarah Mayers, which for only 99p is a perfect gift for under 5s who might not have their own Easter story book at home.
Do you have any you’d recommend?