This Week's Review at Inklings


A quintet of kids' books for a season of faith

Review by Amy Halvorson Miller

Reading with children is always an excellent way for us to bond and impart a love of reading. Faith-themed books help introduce growing minds and hearts to the belief and practice of a family’s faith, make a loving space to ask questions, and promote an appreciation for those who believe differently.

Next week, Christian and Jewish families will observe some of their faiths’ highest holy days: Holy Week and Easter, and Passover, respectively. Here are a few new and classic books to share with little ones in baskets or at bedtime.

The Jewish observance of Passover, celebrating the release of the enslaved Israelites from Egypt, includes a Seder service and meal. In a new picture book, "Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail" by Lesléa Newman, we enter the home of an evening Seder and a little boy anticipating celebrating with a diverse family. The text alternately contrasts the lamplight of the home and the moonlight of the night outside, where a lonely kitten wanders and waits. After the meal, when the door is left open for Elijah, the boy welcomes a new friend. The richly painted art will have you lingering over the warm tradition of Passover. The author’s note concludes with the history of Passover from the Book of Exodus and some rituals of the Seder. This would make a beautiful gift for adults and cat lovers, too.

"Who Was Jesus?" by Ellen Morgan is a short biographical chapter book written for ages 8-12. You may already be familiar with the well-researched Who HQ history series with its bobblehead cover art. Here’s a fun way to learn more about where and when Jesus lived, who followed him, and what Christians believe about his life, death and resurrection. The book includes a helpful bibliography, timelines and illustrations to support the text.

A favorite for a preschool read-aloud or school-age independent reader is "The Story of Easter" by Jean Miller. This Little Golden Book now has updated illustrations with remarkable details. Events include Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples through the Ascension. The book finishes nicely with an explanation of how Christians observe Easter today and how eggs, as a symbol of new life, have become a central part of the celebration.

For the littlest page-turners, two board books make the list. "Great & Small Easter" by Pamela Kennedy is a new book with extra thick and glossy pages for durability. Each right-hand page has a sturdy flap to lift and reveal baby animals with a “splish splash” or “peekaboo” playing in springtime scenes, finishing with a short scripture and Easter cross. A classic for the season is "Richard Scarry's I Am a Bunny" by Ole Risom. Nicholas the bunny leads us on a seasonal tour of his world, starting with spring. These are some of the most charming nature illustrations you’ll find in a children’s book, which is certainly why this story has endured for almost 60 years.

Take a look at these and other children’s books for this season of faith. You will likely learn something new and find your own belief enriched!

"Welcoming Elijah" by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal, was published by Charlesbridge in January 2020. It retails for $16.99.

"Who Was Jesus?" by Ellen Morgan, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi, was published by Penguin Workshop in 2015. It retails for $5.99.

"The Story of Easter" by Jean Miller, illustrated by Jerry Smath, was published by Golden Books in 2018. It retails for $4.99.

"Great & Small Easter" by Pamela Kennedy, illustrated by Anna Abramskaya, was published by BH Kids on Feb. 2. It retails for $8.99.

"Richard Scarry's I Am a Bunny" by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry, was published by Golden Books in 1963. It retails for $7.99.