Well-known characters from popular children’s literature – like Stan and Jan Berenstain’s the Berenstain Bears, Rosemary Wells’ Max & Ruby, and Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter – star in series of books dealing with child-friendly themes and often centering around holidays. Seek out Easter books starring these popular characters for children ages 4 to 8 who are fans of them.
Children’s Easter Books – Berenstain Bears Books
For younger children who love lift-the-flap books, The Berenstain Bears’ Baby Easter Bunny by Jan and Mike Berenstain [HarperFestival, 2008] will provide a fun Easter challenge. A newer entry into the classic series of Berenstain Bears books, this Easter picture book has a small flap on each page that hides a fun Easter surprise. Children will uncover Easter eggs and hidden baby animals, learning a gentle lesson about kinds of animals that appear in spring while following the cute narrative about an Easter gift that hops away.
Older children will enjoy The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs by Stan and Jan Berenstain [Random House Books for Young Readers, 2002] more. This Easter picture book has a longer, more complicated plot about how Sister Bear and Brother Bear learn to value real Easter eggs (the kind that bring forth new life by hatching baby birds) over chocolate eggs or Easter candy.
Children’s Easter Books – Max and Ruby Books
In Max’s Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells [Puffin, 2000], Max’s sister Ruby decides that whoever finds the most Easter eggs will get to eat the chocolate chicken that “somebody” has left in the bird bath. Max, however, would rather play in puddles…right up until he runs off with the chocolate chicken and enjoys it on his own.
Younger siblings will enjoy reading Max’s Chocolate Chicken to see Max refuse to bow down to Ruby’s bossiness about who will get to have the chicken. Parents can use this book both as entertainment for kids and as the starting point for a discussion about fairness between siblings.
Max Counts His Chickens by Rosemary Wells [Puffin, 2009] is a funny twist on the same storyline. This time Ruby and Max are competing to see who can collect all ten hidden pink marshmallow chicks. Ruby, of course, once again finds all the hidden objects, while this time Max does try to look, but makes a mess in the process by searching for the marshmallow chicks in ridiculous places like inside a tube of toothpaste. Luckily, at the end, ten more marshmallow chicks show up just for Max.
Max’s Easter Surprise [Grosset & Dunlap, 2008] is a book version of the television episode Max’s Easter Parade from the Nick Jr. Max and Ruby cartoon television show. Ruby and Louise decorate Easter eggs in a variety of beautiful and creative ways. When Ruby trusts Max to place them in a basket for Grandma, he decides to take them on a little detour – an Easter parade made up of cute wind-up toys! Children can get ideas for how to decorate eggs from Ruby and Louise’s creations, and, as always, Max’s resourcefulness and playfulness make him a good role model for young readers.
Children who enjoy reading Max & Ruby books may also enjoy watching Easter episodes from the Nick Jr. Max and Ruby show. Parents can check out reviews of the Max’s Chocolate Chicken episode and the Easter with Max and Ruby DVD that includes the episode Max’s Easter Parade.
Children’s Easter Books – Mercer Mayer Little Critter Books
Parents familiar with other Mercer Mayer books in The New Adventures of Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter series will find no surprises in It’s Easter, Little Critter! by Mercer Mayer [HarperFestival, 2007]. Mercer Mayer’s familiar artwork (complete with Little Critter’s pet spider and mouse included in each picture) accompanies this story of the things Little Critter and Little Sister do all Easter day. The Critter family participates in Easter traditions including receiving Easter presents, dressing in fancy outfits, dyeing Easter eggs, and holding an Easter egg hunt.
As is common with Mercer Mayer Little Critter holiday-themed books, some right-hand pages have flaps that fold out to reveal what happens next in a situation. The expressions on the characters’ faces and the things they do (like Little Critter tying his tie “just like Dad,” if “just like Dad” means “in a big knotted clump”) are full of Mercer Mayer’s usual gentle humor.
Any one of the above books would make a nice Easter basket gift or read-aloud during the Easter season. Children may also enjoy other Easter picture books about Easter egg hunts, Easter eggs, and the Easter bunny.