This is what living within a big historical event looks like
Culture Children's Books
He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter by Patti Rokus: Though the format of this picture book may be surprising at first, Rokus’ simple language and elegant rock designs tell the story of Christ’s death and resurrection in a fresh and effective way. The book’s pages feature photographs of rock arrangements on a black background, each depicting events from the Passion Week. Rokus pairs these scenes with short sentences and reference verses, keeping the format uncomplicated and easy for children to follow. The tactile textures and colors of Rokus’ rock illustrations will appeal to children and spark their imaginations, leaving space for readers to connect to the story in their own way. This quiet retelling allows the reader to focus on the magnitude of a story that has been oft repeated. (Ages 4-8)
On That Easter Morning by Mary Joslin: Colorful illustrations pair with compelling storytelling in this book to lead young readers from the last week of Christ’s life on earth through His resurrection. Joslin’s dialogue and descriptions bring the Easter story down to ground level with a straightforward account that intentionally taps into the emotional responses of the characters involved. Joslin also helps children understand historically and theologically important connections, like how the Last Supper was a celebration of Passover. The illustrations are unique and beautiful, ranging from a simple and somber watercolor for the scene on Golgotha to a garden filled with brightly patterned trees on Easter morning. This simple picture book is an excellent way to help young children connect to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. (Ages 5-8)
Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix: The first half of this book focuses on the miracles of Jesus, and the second on His death and resurrection. The bright illustrations pop off the page—but the pictures aren’t the only art. The words themselves help illustrate the story as well as tell it, weaving in and out of the drawings, with colors and styles changing to support the narrative. Hendrix’s account of Jesus’ life taps into universal themes of healing and restoration. He goes to great lengths to defamiliarize the story, making it fresh and new even for those who have heard it repeatedly in the church. This book gives the broader context of Christ’s life, helping children better understand the importance of how the story ends. (Ages 5-9)
Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson: Families can use this book alongside “resurrection eggs,” a set of plastic Easter eggs with small items inside them that help tell the Easter story. Carlson introduces readers to Benjamin, a young boy living in Jerusalem during the first century, and then tells how Benjamin’s story intersects with Christ’s—from helping serve the Last Supper in the upper room to seeing the events of the crucifixion unfold. Along the way, Benjamin collects mementos to help him remember these amazing events, such as a coin from Judas, a nail from the cross, and a stone from the garden where Jesus rose again. Reading the book with a set of resurrection eggs will create a fun and tactile way for children to experience the Easter season. (Ages 4-8)
Helen Haidle’s Journey to the Cross: The Complete Easter Story for Young Readers (Zondervan, 2001) would work well as a family read-aloud leading up to Easter. The story includes narratives of each day in Jesus’ last week of life before His crucifixion, concluding with the resurrection and the events of Pentecost. Haidle carefully works through the story’s key tenets of Christian theology, helping children engage emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually with the events and meaning of the Passion Week. She also incorporates references for parallel Scripture reading, memory verses, and discussion questions, as well as sidebars with historical context and Old Testament connections that make it an ideal resource for preparing for Easter as a family. With beautiful illustrations by father-and-son duo David and Paul Haidle, Journey to the Cross is a thorough and accessible Easter devotional.
For families with older children, Rob Burkhart’s On the Road to the Cross: Experience Easter With Those Who Were There (Abingdon Press, 2016) offers reflections on the side characters in the Easter story. Chapters correspond with the traditional weeks of Lent leading up to Easter weekend. Each chapter begins with a fictional exploration of how the Easter story may have affected witnesses like Malchus, Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, and others. Devotional readings explore the lessons these characters can teach us about following Christ and include a personal story from the author’s life that further illustrates the theme.