Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Easter Bunny, Are You for Real?

If your kids are beginning to wonder how the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, and newborn chicks fit into the real Easter story - or if you're trying to find ways to make these secular traditions complimentary to your religious ones, Easter Bunny, Are You for Real? may be a helpful book.
Written by former President of Christianity Today, Inc., Harold Myra, the book opens with a young family sitting in the living room. Mom is reading the youngest child a book, but when he sees a picture of the Easter Bunny, he exclaims: "Bad bunny!" Mom's not sure what to make of that until the two older children explain they overheard a church member saying what a shame it is that kids "get all excited about the Easter Bunny." This leads Dad to explore the topic more thoroughly.
He begins with a short recap of the real Easter story:

"Jesus' friends saw him killed on the cross, then buried. What a terrible day! Jesus was dead. But three days later - that first Easter dawn - Jesus rose from his grave. He was alive again! His disciples suddenly understood what Jesus had been trying to tell them. Death is the beginning, not the end. Jesus would live forever. And they would, too!"
The Easter Bunny, Dad explains, doesn't have anything to do with the real Easter. The Bunny, like baby chicks and flowers, has long been a symbol of spring. "Spring is God's picture of Jesus rising from the dead as all of nature comes to life again," Dad says. Easter eggs don't have anything to do with the real Easter, either, but some people, remembering Jesus' suffering, give up certain foods during a time called Lent. Those foods included eggs. After Easter, these people celebrate with a great feast. Eggs make people think of new life, and red eggs are traditionally brought to the table to show Easter joy.
Dad explains there are lots of Easter and springtime traditions, and over the years, they've gotten all mixed together. When one of the children asks if egg hunts are okay on Easter, Dad replies, "Sure - if we also remember that on the real Easter Jesus rose from the dead!"
The next morning, the family gathers on the porch to watch the Easter sunrise, then they go off to church to celebrate. After church, they sit and eat a chocolate bunny, and Dad reminds them that a rabbit spends the winter in a dark hole. Then, in the spring, he leaps out of the hole, "full of life." So the children can use even the Easter Bunny to remind them of Jesus' resurrection.
What I Like: This is a straight-forward book that sorts through secular vs. Christian Easter traditions, and does a nice job of helping Christian families integrate the two in a meaningful way. The illustrations by Jane Kurisu are sketchy and engaging, showing a variety of emotions and situations.
What I Dislike: Nothing.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but my 2 year old likes it.
Publishing Info: Tommy Nelson, 1998; ISBN: 0849914930; hard back, $7.99.
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