Still in need of an Easter message or Sunday School lesson? Consider using the following picture books for your preschool or lower elementary class. Included with each book are ideas of how you can develop it into a lesson, with a corresponding art project, activity, and/or take home reminder.
These books can also be used as a family devotional resource. They are phenomenal additions to any home, school, or church library. For each book we’ve included a link to Amazon online bookstore. You can also purchase them in most local bookstores too.
The Legend of the Easter Egg, written by Lori Walburg and illustrated by James Bernardin, is a picture book intended for children ages 4-8. It is the story of a little boy who has an ill sister. The boy is concerned about whether she will live or die. A discussion ensues about Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. A parallel is made between a common symbol of Easter (the egg) and the life and death of Christ. The focal point of the story is the following phrase,”Just as a chick breaks out of an egg, so had Jesus broken free of the tomb of death. Easter eggs remind us that Jesus conquered death and gives us eternal life.”
While reading the book, take deliberate pauses to ask questions, make the story relevant, and elaborate about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Tell them that Jesus died to give them this new life. Ask the students if they have ever accepted the new life that Christ offers them. Challenge them to think about accepting God’s gift of love and life today.
This story would be perfect in conjunction with an egg hunt. If one is not scheduled, the simple distribution of chocolate eggs would be a hit. After the students all receive an egg, reinforce together the meaning of the egg with a simple phrase such as, “This egg reminds me to accept new life in Christ.”
The Legend of the Sand Dollar, written by Chris Auer and illustrated by Rick Johnson, is a picture book with a target audience of 4-8 year olds, though it could be easily utilized for older children. It is the story of two sisters who are sent away to live with an aunt on the coast, because of problems between their parents. While visiting the shore, the younger sister meets a boy named Jack. Jack helps Kerry realize that life changes, like the tide and the seasons. He uses a sand dollar to demonstrate the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. After their talks together, Kerry knows that she has hope because and through the power of God.
Being a coastal girl at heart, this story would be a perfect read on the beach, with everyone’s toes in the sand. However, not all of us can be that fortunate! If you do not have the luxury of a sand location, read it in a sandbox or if nothing else, provide small containers of sand. I would distribute sand dollars, found through Oriental Trading or local coastal stores. You can also print out coloring pages or small sand dollar graphics (can be laminated, attached to yarn, and made into a necklace) so that children go home with a visual.
If you need an art project, consider creating sand art. For preschoolers, you could provide a design template on construction paper (of a cross, a sand dollar, a heart), on which they would place their glue. Have small containers of sand available for each of them. I would also suggest that they work in a tray, to help with cleanup. For older students, templates can be provided, but also the flexibility to create their own design.
The Parable of the Lily, written by Liz Curtis Higgs, is a picture book for children ages 4-8. The Parable of the Lily is a story about Maggie, the farmer’s youngest daughter. Maggie receives a package in the mail that she is not entirely thrilled about. The package is from her father, though he does not tell her at the time. In the box is a bulb, buried in a crate of dirt. She carelessly throws the bulb away into the garden, not wanting to bother with it. Unexpectedly, it grows into a beautiful lily on Easter morning. The story parallels the death of Christ and His resurrection that we celebrate on Easter.
After reading the book, show the students a flower bulb. Ask questions such as, “Does this look like anything to you? Does it seem like it would ever give life? Do you think you would agree with Maggie, that it wasn’t anything special?” Discuss the death of Christ and his burial. Imagine how disappointed His disciples and friends must have been.
“But what happened to the bulb? It became a beautiful lily! What happened to Jesus? He rose from the dead! What was once dead became filled with life! Jesus is alive! Jesus is alive! That is the good news of Easter morning. Jesus is alive! And we can have new life in His name!”
For the lesson, bring in an Easter lily plant for the children to see and smell. As a take home from the lesson, distribute flower bulbs to each child. Consider attaching a verse to the bulb. If you need an art project, work on creating Easter lilies from hand prints cut out of construction paper, taped together, and curled. Attach a green stem with leaves.