When approached to write a post with Easter books my first thought was, “Every truly good book is an Easter book.” Certainly there are many beautiful picture books with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and you can find many of my favorites in the Lent book post here. But, as we enter the 50 days of Easter I want to share a way of thinking about books and talking about great books that helps us see echoes of redemption and better understand the mystery of Easter.
Easter is the greatest mystery of the Christian faith. The story of the world is that God made all things well, but through human sin, evil and death entered the world. On Easter, creation is made new, the kingdom of God is restored. Darkness is cast aside, light breaks through, and hope is found. As we read with an Easter lens, these are the themes we look for when asking ‘Where is Easter in this story?”
Perhaps a book that is most accessible as we think about reading with an Easter lens is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In Lewis’ masterpiece, Edmund is fooled by the White Witch and gives into temptation. The only way to undo the wrong Edmund’s betrayal creates is through Aslan’s self-sacrifice. The great lion lays down his life to save Edmund; yet, death can not defeat him and he is resurrected to establish a kingdom where courage and goodness rule. The parallels between this tale and the biblical salvation narrative are easily seen.
While The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is perhaps one of the most obvious examples, there are many books that share echoes of redemption. In fact, one could argue that this is the definition of a great book for there is no resolution to a plot without something to be overcome; there is no redemption without brokenness. This is the true story of our world and great fiction echoes this truth: orphans find homes, the ill become well, grief gives way to joy, villains are conquered, and kingdoms are established.
At the end of this post is a short list of books I think are a good place to start if you want to read with an Easter Lens. But please know, this can be done with hundreds, even thousands, of great books. So as your family reads through the 50 days of Easter ask the question: How is this an Easter book?
To help you find how it is an Easter book ask:
- Where is redemption?
- Do you see God’s kingdom cracking through or a good kingdom being made?
- Does light overcome darkness?
- Is death or evil defeated?
- Is the lost one found?
- Does the old become new?
- How do the characters grow toward goodness, truth or beauty?
- How does one person sacrifice for the good of others?
- Where is hope?
You can do this with any book, but here are a few favorite stories that are deeply redemptive.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams: A small boy loves his toy rabbit until it is shabby, but after a sickness the rabbit is disposed of. Yet, the miracle of the story is that the rabbit is made new.
The Tempest: (Read the original by Shakespeare or the picture book illustrated by Jane Ray) A duke is overthrown and exiled. Will the true king and kingdom be restored? Will things be made new?
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo: Edward Tulane is a beautiful china bunny and is desperately loved by the girl Abilene. But, he is conceited and does not love in return. Can this self-centered rabbit be redeemed? Can he learn to love?
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo: A young girl can’t remember who she is, but slowly the tragic story comes back to her. Will she find who she is and what story she is part of? Can the kingdom be restored? Will a true and loving leader be found?
The Giver by Lois Lowry: This book asks deep questions about what it means to be human. It is a deep story of redemption. How do the actions of one person help greater truth and beauty break through?
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan: This story begins in tragedy as Esperanza’s family loses everything. Will light break into the darkness? They journey to a new country and work hard to try to reunite their family. Where is hope in this story? Where is redemption?
What are your favorite Easter books?