Introducing Our Featured Friend:
The Berenstain Bears and The Easter Story by Jan & Mike Berenstain
In sharing this book with you, I realize I’m not introducing new authors or characters to you as these beloved characters have been around since 1962 when Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced their first book. I picked this one because after reading many books that share the Christian Easter story, I like how this book is both concrete and creative: concrete in the chronological highlights of Jesus’ life and the events of the Holy week and still creative in its presentation with the cubs’ Sunday school class presenting the story through an Easter play.
Tuesday’s featured friend, God Made Easter, is abstract and symbolic, whereas today’s featured friend, The Easter Story, is concrete and factual (except their cubs and not people), so they compliment each other well. The Berenstains share the Biblical account of Easter in a concrete way that a two or three year old can begin to grasp, but an eight year old can still enjoy. The story starts with the cubs walking to church talking about what Easter candy is their favorite. Missus Ursula, their Sunday school teacher, joins in the fun of their candy talk, and also points them to the most important reason for Easter: Jesus. She takes them next door where the other Sunday school cubs’ class is putting on their Easter play. The performance begins with the miracles Jesus did for others, then moves into his teachings and the people’s mixed reactions, his ride into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), his arrest, his unjust trials leading to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Each part is brief and poignant, concluding with Jesus’ appearance to his friends, then ascension into Heaven to be with His Father again. The story comes full circle with the last page reading,
“The play was over. Everyone was very quiet.
‘Easter is about a lot more than candy, isn’t it?’ asked Sister.
‘Yes, indeed,’ said Missus Ursula. ‘Are there any questions?’
‘Yes,’ said Brother. ‘Does this mean we shouldn’t eat any Easter candy?’
‘Certaintly not!’ laughed Missus Ursula . . . ‘It just means that on Easter morning, after you get your Easter baskets, you’ll all go to church to learn more about Easter.’
‘Hooray!’ the cubs said.
‘And Hosanna!’ added Missus Ursula. ‘He is risen!’
‘Amen to that!’ said Brother and Sister.”
The back of the book includes “Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear” as well as an insert of coordinating stickers in the middle of the book.
Inviting You to Become FRIENDS:The Berenstain Bears and The Easter Story:
Select a couple of the suggested questions or activities to discuss and do with your children or class, or let them pick! As a mom juggling the responsibilities of the home, kids, and more, I am encouraged to remember that I can pick one question to discuss with my kids in the car on the way to soccer, or while making dinner or folding laundry in the same room with them. I’m learning that if I wait for the “perfect time and circumstances” to read and interact with my kids, I’ll never do it because life is hectic. In fact, if your kids are older, you can print the blog post and let them pick an activity to do on their own or with a sibling after reading it together. I’m guessing you are like me, in that some days, I’m just happy that I read the book with them and that is good enough. See what works for your family this week:
Feel, Relate, Imagine, Explore, Navigate, Develop, Share
F- How do you feel after reading about what Jesus did for all of mankind?
R- Can you relate Jesus’ sacrifice (willingness to give his life for us) to a smaller, but special sacrifice that a friend has done for you or that you have done for a friend?
I- Imagine being one of the people that saw Jesus after he rose from the dead, before he went back up to heaven. What would you want to say to him or do with him?
E– Explore the Easter Story by reading the events directly from the Bible, (found in the closing chapters of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John), or by enjoying The Resurrection Eggs from Family Life Today with your kids!
N- Navigate the places of the major events of Holy Week on Google Map: Check out http://www.thegospelcoalition.org “Holy Week Geography and Harmony in Google Earth”.
(I’m super excited about this activity, and I thank Julie Sanders, author of the Facebook Page, “Come Have a Peace”, for introducing this site to me.)
D- Develop a timeline of events by using the stickers in the middle of the book.
S- Share how Jesus can be A Best Friend to those who want his friendship.
Happy Easter. . . He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!