Put a Picture Book in your Easter Basket
Who ends up eating all that leftover holiday chocolate in your house? In our family, only one of us has a sweet tooth—sadly, it’s me. And while Christmas usually sees me lose all willpower (and rationalize with ‘I’ll stop baking and binging in the new year’), Easter is close enough to Christmas that my lingering sense of having overdone it prompts me to find a less-chocolatey way to celebrate this holiday.
Our family tradition has thus always included non-candy Easter treats and activities: painting Easter eggs, baking hot-crossed buns, singing Easter hymns, an egg hunt with riddle-clues, and each year a new Easter-themed book in (or alongside of) the traditional Easter basket.
Trying to avoid more chocolate? Looking for a meaningful Easter treat? Why not put a Picture Book in your Easter Basket!
So, in place of a dozen chocolate eggs, here are 12 picture books that have graced our Easter baskets over the years. Some religious, some sentimental, some humorous. Some specifically about the Easter holiday, and others complementing the season with chicks, eggs, bunnies, lambs, new hope, and springtime. So go ahead—put a book in your child’s basket this Easter!
1. The Legend of the Easter Robin
By Dandi Daley Mackall (author) and Richard Cowdrey (illustrator). This faith-based book weaves the old Pennsylvania Dutch legend of how the robin got his red breast into a story within a story. While learning about the robin, Tessa, dying Easter eggs with her Gran, also learns of God’s love and care for all creatures.
2. Here Comes the Easter Cat
- We adore Deborah Underwood’s (author) and Claudia Rueda’s (illustrator) Cat Cat’s crazy schemes and silly antics will keep you chuckling through countless re-readings. Initially rather selfish, ultimately Cat’s inner kindness always shines through, making him undeniably lovable. The book’s humour and pathos lie not only in the brilliantly sparse illustrations, but also in the narrator’s wry exchange with Cat himself, who speaks only by holding up pictorial signs!
3. My First Easter
A gentle board book for your littlest family members, by the master author-illustrator of countless classic children’s books, Tomie Da Paolo. Awash in Da Paolo’s signature pastel style, My First Easter introduces children to many of the traditions associated with a European celebration of Easter and Springtime.
4. You are Special
This 1997 classic by best-selling Christian author and pastor Max Lucado (author) and Sergio Martinez (illustrator), helps children understand that they are all wonderfully and individually made, and each child is special just the way they are. Its message of affirmation is perfect for Easter or any time of year.
5. The Great Eggscape
In this humourous follow-up to Jory John’s (author) and Pete Oswald’s (illustrator) The Good Egg, the eggs spend a mischievous morning playing hide and seek throughout the store (before the customers arrive). Only Shel (the good egg) decides not to join in. Left alone in the carton, Shel’s peace and quiet quickly turns into loneliness, and then into worry. Eventually Shel leaves the carton, turning the great ‘eggscape’ into a playful egg hunt with his friends!
6. ’Twas the Morning of Easter
This lyrical retelling of a beloved Bible story helps little ones experience the great surprise of that first Easter morning in a fresh and engaging way. Author Glenys Nellist’s gentle, rhyming text is accessible to little ears, while Elena Selivanova’s thoughtful illustrations lend the book a classic feel. ’Twas the Morning of Easter is a faith-growing treat to pop in your little one’s Easter basket.
7. Why is Good Friday Good?
Even as Christian parents, we sometimes overlook Good Friday in favour of the more child-friendly Easter Sunday. The Foong family (Elvin and Esther, authors; Nathan and Phoebe, illustrators) offer a child-centered explanation for why the Friday before Easter is called “Good.” Conversational text and charming drawings by sibling artists explore this Christian holy day from a child’s perspective.
8. Pip and Egg
By Alex Latimer (author) and David Litchfield (illustrator). This beautifully written and illustrated story of two chance friends—a seed pod and an egg—resonates with seasonal themes of new life, hope, and friendship. While growing differences seem to tear them apart (the seed sprouts roots and grows into a tree, while the egg hatches into a bird, of course), Pip and Egg find a way to forge a friendship that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
9. Little Ewe
This counting book for younger children, by Laura Sassi (author) and Tommy Doyle (illustrator), tells the story of a lost little lamb and the loving shepherd who rescues her. While not strictly an Easter story, this sweet tale, along with the original ‘lost sheep’ parable it is based on, exudes love and restoration—surely the heart of Easter.
10. We’re Going on an Egg Hunt
A fresh take on the popular kids’ song ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’, Martha Mumford’s (author) and Laura Hughes’ (illustrator) charming adaptation follows four bunnies gathering eggs for their Easter baskets. Along the way, they face lambs, chicks, bees, ducks, and ‘can’t go over them, can’t go under them, got to go around them’, of course! Younger children will love lifting the flaps to find 10 eggs and a host of other treasures hidden among the pages.
11. The Velveteen Rabbit
There are so many classic kidlit bunnies, they would surely overflow our Easter basket: from the very first anthropomorphic bunny, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, to Margert Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny, to the tactile board book Pat the Bunny. But of all the bunny classics, our fav has got to be The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (original illustrations by William Nicholson). First published in 1922, this timeless story of a beloved stuffed toy that ultimately becomes real has truly become a fable of love and loyalty. If you need a bunny book for an older child who still loves picture books, The Velveteen Rabbit would be a great choice.
12. And Then it’s Spring
When you’ve exhausted the bunnies, chicks, and lambs, books with themes of new life, hope, and springtime bring a seasonal touch to your Easter basket (that is, if you live in the northern hemisphere!). And again, there are so many of them, it’s impossible to choose just one. But, nevertheless, and rather at random, here is And Then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano (author) and Erin Stead (illustrator). Simple, contemplative, but filled with hope, it is the perfect book to help children wait out the ‘brownish’ end of winter that often comes just before Easter and the green-filled joys of Spring.
So, here it is, your carton of a dozen eggs picture books just waiting for some-bunny to put one in your child’s Easter basket. Happy Easter, and happy reading!
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