Heads up that The King of Easter: Jesus Searches for All God’s Children isn’t the Easter story as you’d classically think of it. It’s not a linear story of the week leading up to the crucifixion, or even a Bible story at all. Instead, it’s a look at characters in the New Testament who Jesus found and saved.
Each time Jesus finds someone in the text of the story and saves that person, they then journey together to the next person who Jesus saves. That’s a fun premise, and the illustrations get more and more crowded as Jesus saves more people. It can be a little confusing if your kids are super literal. They’ll be wondering what John the Baptist was doing on the road with Saul. The illustration concept is not a particularly difficult thing for kids to understand, but it is definitely worth a short explanation when you read it aloud.
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The King of Easter: Jesus Searches for All God’s Children by Todd R. Hains
Overall, I really like it, and recommend The King of Easter for all ages. I think the sweet spot is around second grade, even though there isn’t much text per page. The idea is a little lofty, so although you could read it to a preschooler, I think it makes more sense for the early elementary crowd.
In my review of another book in the series I mentioned that Jesus had an “aura,” sort of like a halo. In The King of Easter it was like, “THAT is a halo.” Just a heads up that Jesus has an obvious halo in every single image. However, he’s the only one who does, and Mary and the apostles have no aura surrounding them or anything like that.
I heartily warn you that it’s written for families who have a strong Bible background already. It will take a decent amount of Bible literacy to be able to explain the significance of the characters, and make sure the kids understand the illustrations aren’t showing gatherings that actually happened in the Bible. So, that makes it not the best gift for a baby shower for your friend from work. Unless you work at a seminary, then it’s probably fine.
However, if you do feel comfortable with the basic Easter story, and you’re looking for something that’s a little different from the “normal” Easter story, but still is true to the Bible, I think this is a great option. The thread of “Jesus saves the lost and that brings JOY,” is definitely something we want our children to know deep down. It’s a truth we want them to have in their heart, even if they don’t consciously know it’s there. The King of Easter is one of the books I read to my kids so that when they walk away from the faith someday, they’ll know their way back. Jesus has saved their place at the table!
Easy Easter Reading Plan
I think it could also make a really EASY Easter reading plan, if you pair it with a few other books.
Here’s what I’m thinking – you read I See Jesus by Nancy Guthrie regularly for the first half of however long you have until Easter. I See Jesus goes through the hints of Jesus in the Old Testament stories. Every time you read it, choose one of the Old Testament stories it talks about as a picture of the Messiah, and read that story in a Bible storybook. That will cover a good chunk of the Old Testament, plus I See Jesus is AMAZING, so it’s a good thing to read it to your kids daily for a few weeks.
Then, for the next couple weeks, do the same thing but with The King of Easter. That way you’ll hit the New Testament stories that show Jesus. Same idea: read The King of Easter, then take one of the pages in the book and read the full story of that New Testament character in a Bible storybook. There are 14 pages/characters in The King of Easter that you could read a story about, and I think most of the stories would be fairly straightforward. The thief on the cross might be a tough one to find a story about, but other than that, you should be good.
(Or, I guess you could read in the real actual Bible verses about each character…how bad is it I didn’t even think about that until now? I just love a good Bible storybook!)
The Best Bible Storybooks
I know, this post is getting ridiculously long, but if you’re going to do my little easy Easter reading guide I laid out in the previous section, I might as well give you a few Bible storybook recommendations. I’m not going to give full reviews, but here are my personal favorite Bible storybooks, in roughly the order of ages they’re meant for. (Although we have a wide range of kids, and all three are appropriate for all ages.)
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
This book ties every story in both the Old and New Testament back to Jesus and salvation. It’s also beautifully fully illustrated. It’s everything you’re looking for in a first Bible storybook, but still good reminders for us grownups, too.
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book by Elsie Egermeier
I know it’s old. Like…really old. I like it because it’s comprehensive (312 stories!), and written at the perfect level for early elementary kids. I am aware the illustration style is not currently in fashion, but at least Jesus isn’t blonde. It’s a great classic, and worth a look if you aren’t familiar with it, especially if your sweet family has grown out of The Jesus Storybook Bible. (Heads up that there have been multiple editions, so there are a few different covers floating around.)
The Biggest Story Bible Storybook by Kevin DeYoung
This is what we’re currently reading as a family. I’m obsessed. It’s fully illustrated, not heretical, puts each story into the bigger context of the Bible, and has around 100 stories. (Though it’s lacking Lazurus, oddly enough.) I can’t recommend it enough. (Here’s a more robust review from when it was published.)