My oldest child is in his twenties, so we’ve had a lot of experience creating Easter baskets for our children. We want to make them fun, but also help the children keep their focus on why we are celebrating. So, along with candy, we include some things that will help bolster their faith.
Over the years, here are some items we have included:
Rosaries: a good, every day rosary, perhaps a corded one, is a great inclusion, especially if you hide it in a plastic egg.
Scapulars/medals: a child-seized scapular or medal of a favorite saint make excellent inclusions. If you give both, attach the medal to the scapular for wearing.
Holy Cards: one of our children has a collection of these and keeps them in a binder with clear plastic inserts that have individual sleeves for each card.
Books: historical fiction is a great way to keep children engaged while learning. Here are some of our favorite selections:
The Xan Chronicles by Antony Barone Kolenc – This trilogy is excellent for pre-teens and teens alike. These stories, which are set in the 12th century, tell the tale of a young boy who was injured in a raid on his village and taken to a monastery. He has lost his memory, so the monks name him Alexander; Xan for short. The first book, Shadow in the Dark traces Xan’s recovery and how he stumbles upon a mystery which he eventually helps solve. The next book, The Haunted Cathedral, delves deeper into Xan’s past and other topics, such as forgiveness and redemption. In the final book, The Fire of Eden, Xan has a big decision to make, as well as another crime to solve. These books are exciting and engaging and any child–boy or girl– would be pleased to find them in an Easter basket.
The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen by Josephine Nobisso – In The Weight of a Mass, a poor beggar woman promises a wealthy baker that she will offer up one mass for him of he will give her a scrap of bread. He mocks her by writing the words, ‘one mass’ on a piece of paper and weighing it against a load of baked goods. What happens next changes everyone, including the beggar woman. Take it to the Queen is an allegorical story which reveals the Blessed Mother’s role in salvation. Both books are masterfully illustrated and are treasures to pass down from generation to generation.
The Living History Library collection published by Bethlehem Books contains many titles which children are sure to enjoy. Some of these are: Archemides and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick, Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard, Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill, Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Rielly, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow by Allen French, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum and, a favorite of my own children, Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard.
Any of the saint biographies by Vision Books are appropriate for children of elementary school age and up. Included are St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills, St. Elizabeth’s Three Crowns, Francis and Clare: Saints of Assisi and many others.
Movies: what child wouldn’t like a new movie to watch? Some of the more current movies that would be appropriate for older children are
The Ultimate Gift
Younger children would enjoy any of the animated saint stories by CCC, Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt or Joseph King of Dreams, any of the Cat Chat episodes, or Brother Francis DVDs, released by Herald Entertainment.
Music: Fr. Stan Fortuna’s music is a favorite in our household. This former street rapper turned Franciscan friar creates amazing songs that range in genre from rap to jazz to sacred. Sacro Song II will appeal to teens. My personal favorite is the Second Collection. Music from Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, Laura Story, John Waller, Natalie Grant and Casting Crowns is popular in our home.