Pascha is coming! And before Pascha, there will be Lent. So you’re planning meals to use up the meat and cheese in your refrigerator. You’re stocking up on tofu and beans. You’re looking forward to the longer services and Lenten melodies.
All of these things are gifts from the Church to help you prepare for Pascha. The way these things repeat year after year start to work in your heart. As soon as you hear the Gospel of Zacchaeus, you know the journey is about to begin. You know it’s going to be hard work. And the journey fills you with joy, because you know what you’ll find at the end.
Children need repetition
Young children don’t know yet know that the Lenten journey takes them to Pascha. Even if you tell them, they might not be sure what that means. They simply haven’t celebrated Pascha enough times. In order to anticipate Pascha, they need to spend time thinking about Pascha and talking about Pascha and reading stories about Pascha. They need to rehearse it over and over. That’s how they learn.
Honestly, that’s how we all learn. That’s why the Church guides us through Lent year after year after year.
And that’s why your children need to read Easter picture books during Lent. So get your Easter picture books out now, and keep them where your child can see them. Tonight and tomorrow night and every night from now until Pascha, make your child’s bedtime story an Easter story. Talk to your child about the stories. Make sure they know what you know: Pascha is coming, filling the world with joy!
Using picture books to talk about Pascha
Talking about the books you read will make them even more meaningful and more memorable. Here are some conversation starters, with links to reviews of the books.
- Compare Catherine’s Pascha and The Lucky Egg. How are the family’s celebration of Pascha the same? How are they different?
- Have a young child find the icons in the illustrations in Rechenka’s Eggs, Chicken Sunday, Marushka’s Egg, and Catherine’s Pascha. See if your older child can guess the name of Catherine’s parish.
- Talk with an older child about the witches in Marushka’s Egg and Tekla’s Easter.
- Explore the role of the goose in Rechenka’s Eggs and the donkey in The Easter Story.
- If your parish has an ethnic festival every year, compare The Dance of the Eggshells with what happens at your parish.
- If you have family members who aren’t Orthodox, use Emma’s Easter to talk about ways to show your love for them when they celebrate Easter according to their traditions.
- Read Catherine’s Pascha, The Dance of the Eggshells, and Tekla’s Easter. Talk about how the celebrations in the stories are the same and how they are different.
- Compare the clothes the children wear in The Egg Tree and Tekla’s Easter.
- Compare the procession in The Sawdust Carpets with the events in The Easter Story.
- Look at the part eggs play in many of the stories. Talk about how eggs are used in celebrating Pascha at your parish and in your home.
Pascha at the Duckpond: A picture book about Lent: This delightful book by Mother Melania helps young children understand that Lent is about Paschal joy.
Christine, who fasted during the fast-free week: Christine didn’t choose the fast she kept.
Lent for families with special needs: If your family includes people with disabilities, you might not be able to keep Lent the same way other people do. And that’s okay.