Easter bunny teaches kids ‘true meaning’ of Easter in new book with faith focus

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Bestselling author Anthony DeStefano of New Jersey was tired of commercialism and secular culture overrunning the true meaning of Easter — so he wrote a book to “Christianize” the story of the Easter Bunny. 

“The Story of the First Easter Bunny” tells of a “small bunny with very large ears” who lives with his ailing mother near Jerusalem during the time of Christ. 

Desperate to find help for his mother, the bunny hears of a man who can heal with his hands — a man named Jesus. 

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The bunny goes on a journey and finds not only Jesus — but also witnesses the Last Supper, the crucifixion and even the Resurrection on the very first Easter Sunday.

After experiencing a miracle, the bunny then spreads the message of Jesus Christ around the world, and “many were saved, because they believed the life-changing news that they had received.” 

DeStefano told Fox News Digital that the idea of a children’s book that linked the Easter Bunny with the real meaning of Easter had been an idea of his for a while, but he could not quite figure out how he wanted to do it.

The Easter Bunny, who seeks out Jesus Christ to heal his sick mother, witnesses the events of the gospel and then preaches the story of Jesus in “The Story of the First Easter Bunny” by Anthony DeStefano, at right.  (Sophia Institute Press/Courtesy of Anthony DeStefano)

Then one day at Mass, DeStefano heard the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

“I’m very well aware that in Christian theology, the phrase ‘having ears to hear’ means something very different than simply hearing words,” he said.

Rather, “It’s about understanding those words, internalizing their message — and through that active listening, you can bear much fruit in the kingdom of heaven,” he said.

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“So it struck me that since bunnies have enormous ears, in my story [those ears] become a symbol for spiritual receptivity,” said DeStefano — “the way Christians are supposed to listen to God.” 

Once he made this connection, he wrote his story in a matter of weeks, he told Fox News Digital.

“I wrote my book because I thought there was a way to use the Easter Bunny for a deeply spiritual purpose,” he said in a phone interview. 

man surrounded by cartoon animals

Anthony DeStefano, pictured here with some of the characters from his books, was inspired to write “The Story of the First Easter Bunny” to help parents teach their children the story of Easter. (Anthony DeStefano)

He also wanted to help parents teach the story of Easter to their children.

“I know the Easter Bunny is not inherently Catholic, but I do think it can be effectively deployed by Catholic parents as a way to add to the festivity of the Easter celebration, while at the same time teaching children about the death and resurrection of Christ in a way that’s not so frightening,” said DeStefano.

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Easter, while it’s the most important Christian feast day, “necessarily involves the brutal execution of someone, and, death can be very scary for children,” he said. 

“But to be able to give kids an idea of what the crucifixion and the resurrection are all about, by employing an adorable Easter bunny in a way that’s not so frightening — it is valuable.” 

In writing the book, DeStefano sought to “merge the secular with the sacred” but in a way that does not “water down” or compromise the meaning of Easter, he said.

“You can get the very serious Easter message across, and still preserve the joy, innocence and fun of childhood.”

In the book, the Easter Bunny witnesses Christ’s command to St. John to take care of His mother, the Virgin Mary. 

“There’s a lot of theological significance in that kind of entrustment, of course, but it’s also strictly true, on a personal level, that Jesus wanted to make sure that His mom would be OK after He died,” said DeStefano. 

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“And I thought that, if the bunny in the story had a sick mother, and if he witnessed the crucifixion and heard with his big bunny ears that Jesus had taken care of His own mother, that that might provide him with an even more poignant reason for visiting Jesus’s tomb afterward,” said DeStefano. 

“The fact that the bunny has a sick mother makes it easier for him to relate to Jesus and therefore easier for audiences to relate to the bunny.” 

Jesus on the cross

The crucifixion can be scary for children and tough for parents to explain — but the character of the bunny makes the event more approachable for kids, said one New Jersey-based author.  (iStock)

Added the author, “We all have mothers.”

With the Easter Bunny serving as witness to the events of the gospel, “you can get the very serious Easter message across, and still preserve the joy, innocence and fun of childhood,” he said.

It is also a way to “strike back at the secular culture.”

The modern culture “is always trying its best to de-Christianize our holidays, always trying to give children worldly messages,” he said.

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“And beating them at their own worldly game is an extremely satisfying thing to do — especially on the day we commemorate Christ’s ultimate victory over the world,” DeStefano said. 

This is also a way to “strike back at the secular culture.”

DeStefano has written five bestselling Christian books for adults, including “A Travel Guide to Heaven” and “Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To.” In addition, he’s written eight previous bestselling books for children, including “The Donkey That No One Could Ride” and “Little Star.”

“The Story of the First Easter Bunny” is published by Sophia Institute Press and can be purchased wherever books are sold, including at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

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