Yesterday was Pascha. Today is Bright Monday. The kitchen hasn’t recovered yet, and frankly, neither have you. You’re wandering through the house in a bit of a fog. You see Easter picture books scattered on the floor, and you start to pick them up and pack them away until next year.
I understand the urge, but don’t do it. Not yet, anyway.
If you have to put them away because you don’t have enough bookshelves for all of your children’s books, wait at least until Ascension to put them away.
Until then, we’re still celebrating Pascha. Until then, we’re still saying, “Christ is risen!” at church. Until then, your children need to be thinking about Pascha and talking about Pascha and reading stories about Pascha. They need to rehearse it in their mind over and over. That’s how memories are formed. That’s how children learn.
Honestly, that’s how we all learn.
The Church in her wisdom knows that. That’s why, this week, the daily services are all Paschal services. If your parish has Vespers this week, it will be Paschal Vespers. If there is a Divine Liturgy this week, it will be a Paschal liturgy.
Even as adults, we need to repeat the things we need to remember. Children need it even more. So this week especially, and next week, and all the way until Ascension, keep the Easter books out where your child can see them. Tonight and tomorrow night and every night until Ascension, make your child’s bedtime story an Easter story.
Talk to your child about the stories. If you have some or all of the Easter picture books I’ve reviewed this year (and I hope you do!), you can come up with all sorts of interesting conversations. Depending on how old your children are and which books you have, try some of these as starting points.
- 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.
- 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.
- Read The Egg Tree, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, My First Easter, and The Easter Egg by Jann Brett. Talk about how the Easter bunny appears in the stories.
- Look at the part eggs play in so many of the stories.
When you’re planning meals between now and Ascension, continue to share the foods that your family ate at Pascha. Foods, and the smell of foods, will tell your child in a way few other things can that it’s still Pascha.
And plan some menus around the foods that are mentioned in the Easter picture books that your children have read. It might be tea and poppy-seed cakes, or hot dogs and cheese curls, or fried chicken, or tamales. If you read the book at bedtime one day, and have the food the next day, it’s likely that your child will make the connection without your saying anything.
If you don’t have enough Easter picture books to fill up all the reading time and to create activities from now until Ascension, you can still get Easter books online. And you can get Peeps online, too, if you need more Peeps, since your local stores probably haven’t had Peeps for a month.
All of the books, all of the food, all of the connections, all of this repetition, will help Pascha put deep roots down into your child’s heart and mind.
And yours as well.
17 Ways to Use Catherine’s Pascha: After your children read Catherine’s Pascha again and again, try some of these activities to extend the book.
Six Exceptional Multicultural Easter Picture Books: I adore these six picture books. I think you will, too.
Christ Is Risen, and I Need Sleep: You might need a few days to recover from all the joy of celebrating Pascha. I know I do.
Buy the Book: Catherine’s Pascha
FINALIST IN THE 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS
Catherine doesn’t like vegetables. She doesn’t like naps. She doesn’t like it when her mom combs her hair. She loves hot dogs, chocolate cake, and her best friend, Elizabeth. Most of all, she loves Pascha! Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, is celebrated in the middle of the night, with processions and candles and bells and singing. And Catherine insists that she’s not a bit sleepy.