Sunday, April 24, 2011

Picture Books: The Story of Easter (non-fiction)

In honor of Easter, I have three non-fiction selections about the origins of the holiday.   Each book has something a little different to offer.  The First Easter is a great initial book for young children.  In The Story of Easter, I learned about the connection of bunnies and eggs to the holiday.  Finally, Jesus brings Christ’s life in full color and grandeur while using the words of the Scriptures.

The First EasterThe First Easter (ages 0-6) by Lois Rock 
Beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Pentecost, The First Easter covers the highlights of Jesus’ final week and the launch of the Christian church after his ascension.   The main points of the narrative are included, using straightforward language for young listeners.  The juvenile cartoon illustrations are delightful and suitable for the target audience.  The First Easter offers an understandable introduction to basis of this key holiday and of the Christian faith.

The Story of Easter (Trophy Picture Books)The Story of Easter (ages 6-10) by Aileen Fisher  
A concise but faithful narrative of Jesus’ life and final week is the focal point.   The Story of Easter goes on to explain how non-biblical traditions became part of the holiday.  For instance, because Easter Sunday takes place in the spring, other seasonal traditions were incorporated into it by ancient and medieval people.  The egg, for instance, was the symbol of new life in the ancient world.  It was the custom to give eggs as gifts during spring festivals, and they are a ritual food eaten in the Passover.  Various cultures decorated eggs, which is how the Easter egg came to be.  Bunnies, also, became part of the Easter tradition because they represent new life, a crucial aspect of Christianity and spring.  Other customs are also briefly described.

Jesus: His Life in Verses from the King James Holy BibleJesus (ages 6 and up) by Gennady Spirin  
This selection is not specifically about Easter.  Passages of the King James Bible are beautifully illustrated in paintings that combine “both stylized and realistic features and iconic symbolism typical of the early Renaissance artists.”  The specifics covered in the text are:  His birth, His baptism, His boyhood experience in the temple, His temptation, His first miracle, the Sermon on the Mount, His transfiguration, raising of Lazarus from the dead, the last supper, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension.  The stunning illustrations and the brief overview of Christ’s life make this book an ideal read during the Easter holiday by believers wanting to remember His life and sacrifice or unbelievers who desire to learn about the holiday or figure. 

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