No matter how spring is treating you in your part of the world (we have snow here!), hopefully you are looking forward to the arrival of Sunday and its special spring holiday, Easter! To help you prepare and celebrate I have compiled a handful of books, well sixteen actually, that range in topics but all relate in some form to this flowery event. Easter is a holiday with lots of themes, all of which are special and beautiful to read about. I had a lot of fun tracking down an assortment of books, so there are some serious, lots of silly, a couple Christian, and a plethora of bunnies, chicks, eggs and even Santa Claus! Here are sixteen children’s picture books for Easter (beware, it’s long!).
1. The Easter Egg by Jan Brett, 2010
The rabbits are all busy decorating the best egg for a competition and Hoppi desperately hopes to win. While he stews over his egg options, his plans take an unexpected turn and Hoppi ends up responsible for a different sort of egg. Jan Brett’s elaborate borders and pictures within pictures make this story a wonder to pore over. Brett also incorporates a variety of rabbit breeds in her very realistic, yet illustrative style.
2. Clifford’s Happy Easter by Norman Bridwell, 1994
A sweet story narrated as always by Clifford’s owner Emily Elizabeth who has a dream the night before Easter. While dyeing eggs, a mishap turns Clifford into a very colorful dog paying homage to multiple American holidays. Thankfully Easter morning reveals her normal big red hound and they join in a huge egg hunt with all their friends.
3. The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward, pictures by Marjorie Flack, 1939
A classic from 1939, Heyward has penned a story that he often recounted for his daughter about a country bunny who desires to become one of the five Easter bunnies. She is a stellar mom of twenty-one children and through her superhero-like multitasking abilities the story ends as all children would wish, with success and a reward. Flack’s pictures are saturated with color and endearing rabbit expressions that leave you cheering up until the very last bunny is tucked into bed. Make sure you settle in for a long read with this one as Heyward left no detail or event untold.
4. How Fletcher Was Hatched! by Wende and Harry Devlin, 1969
Here we have another lovable hound created by the ever-fabulous husband and wife duo. Poor Fletcher is feeling replaced by the newly hatched chicks. In an effort to get his beloved little girl’s attention, some beavers help Fletcher create an egg from which he himself can hatch into a new beginning. The whole town gets involved with the discovery of such a large egg and Fletcher learns what it is to be special, even if he isn’t fluffy and peeping.
5. Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco, 1988
Dear old Babushka is known throughout Old Moscow for her beautifully painted eggs which she takes to the Easter festival. When she takes in an injured goose, the wild bird accidentally destroys her creations only to repay the kind woman’s care with a miraculous creation of its own. With Polacco’s gorgeous illustrations, she has created a lovely tale with the beauty of Old Moscow and the intricate designs of Ukrainian eggs.
6. Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson, illustrated by Jack Stockman, 1997
One of my favorite illustrated resurrection stories, this tale follows a little boy named Benjamin who unknowingly collects a box full of items that seem trivial but in the end are a treasure of remembrances about the last week of Jesus’ journey to the cross. This book coincides with FamilyLife’s Resurrection Eggs, but having never been a fan of those myself, I find it works just fine on its own or in combination with your own collection of small items to be held and shared.
7. Easter Treat by Roger Duvoisin, 1954
Roger Duvoisin has crafted yet another charming story, this time about the jolly man of Christmas who decides he needs a break from all the ice and snow of the North Pole. Wanting to see springtime, flowers, Easter and more; Santa goes incognito and enjoys the warmth of the city for a change, that is, until he is called a thief for stealing Santa’s beard, nose and twinkle. With a plot twist, reminiscent of the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street, this book is indeed an Easter treat!
8. The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, 1947
A silly little tale about loneliness and friendship, this is another special creation from the Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard collaboration. There is a little bunny, all alone, who finds an egg. His various imaginings of what could be inside, as well as his attempts at opening it will get quite a few chuckles. And especially humorous is the turn of events on the bunny! This is a sweet classic combining the trifecta of Easter marketing symbols: the bunny, the duck, and an egg.
9. The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous, 1950
It’s no wonder this book won the Caldecott Medal in 1951 with Milhous’ stylistic illustrations and vivid colors. The story is about two children who join their cousins on an Easter egg hunt at their Grandmom’s home. Although they are novices to the hunt, one of them finds a forgotten box full of special eggs that were painted long ago and sparks a new tradition for their Easter celebration. The characters have a Pennsylvania Dutch background and the pages are brilliant with detail and color that is stunning to behold.
10. The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams, 1976
I swoon for the illustrations in this beautiful book! There is a family of rabbits who happen to be Abbotts and make the designs on Easter eggs. While on vacation for the winter, young Orson learns the joy and honor of their craft and ends up surprising them all with his newfound love and talent. Adrienne Adams is a recent discovery of mine and her work is so sweet and lovely! I love her characters, but the patterns the Abbotts paint are the true star of this piece.
11. Caleb’s Colt by Jill Briscoe, illustrated by Russ Flint, 1989
This is a book from my childhood that I adored for this holiday. It is another version of the real story of Easter told from the perspective of a young boy. Caleb has a naughty and untrained colt that everyone flees from. So it is a big surprise when the special teacher from Nazareth requests that very colt for his triumphant entry into the city. The surprises keep coming as Caleb’s colt behaves perfectly and the teacher turns out to be someone much more special than everyone realized.
12. The Easter Rabbit’s Parade by Lois Lenski, 1936
If you are at all familiar with Lois Lenski’s style, this book will be even more of a delight. The Farmyard animals are determined to give their Ann Eliza a special Easter treat but the famed White Rabbit refuses to give up his position of glory as the painter and deliverer of Easter eggs. A slightly bizarre tale with an extremely pompous rabbit and a very forgiving crew of animals, this is a cute story with a very celebratory Easter morning at its end. There must be something about the 30s though as this one is quite long as well, so be prepared!
13. Little Chick by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram, 2009
Although not specifically about the Easter holiday, this book screams spring (and kinda whispers Easter) with its colors, flowers, and the cute fluffy chick protagonist. Actually a compilation of three (short) stories, each tale tells of Little Chick’s desires and lessons learned in patience, endurance and contentment with the help of her wonderfully wise Old-Auntie. This is a sweet one with lovely illustrations and a chick that every kid can relate to.
14. The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich, illustrated by Adrienne Adams, 1957/1983
I admit I snatched this one up at a recent used bookstore simply because it bore the name of that newly beloved illustrator Adrienne Adams. And I’m glad I did as it is just as charming as I hoped with a recounting of the time the Easter Bunny overslept Easter morning due to a very rainy day and a lack of sun to awaken him. His confusion on the day turns a bit humiliating and he humorously attempts to give away his eggs as a different holiday bunny. Thankfully that jolly big fellow in the red suit appears in this one too and cheers the downhearted bunny in time for the next year’s festivities. Love Adrienne Adams’ treatment of the Friedrich’s old tale.
15. If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, 2011
This one too is not specifically about Easter, but oh, is it ever a fun book! You can read or sing this to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It,” and it will be an instant, and hilarious hit. Lots of rhymes, many descriptions like hoppy, growly, flappy and more. Go find this one, please. (And read my full review!) You’ll be so hoppy you did!
16. The Happy Egg by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Crockett Johnson, 1967
And last but not least is this immensely simple story by another husband and wife duo who are also amazing. Written by Krauss who has penned so many excellent books I won’t bother to name them but insist you go look her up, and illustrated by Crockett Johnson who is most famous for Harold and the Purple Crayon, with those people involved you know this is a good one. It’s all about a little egg that can do nothing but be sat on, until… well, you’ll just have to read it. Not an Easter story per se, but all about new life, chicks, eggs, flowers and such. It’s a happy little egg for a happy Easter day.
Well, there you have my exhausting, yet not exhaustive, list of children’s picture books for your Easter this 2013. I hope you find a few to enjoy, and please tell me your favorites in the comments. I’d love some more to hunt down. Books are so much better to hunt than eggs!