The original co-creator of the Berenstain Bears picture book series, Jan Berenstain, died on Friday at the age of 88.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first book in the series, The Big Honey Hunt. Three hundred books later, the series has been translated into 23 languages and is a staple in many libraries around the world. These books were ahead of their time, and continue to be an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, librarians and kids in helping them deal with some of the difficult issues we face, such as moving, bullying, and sibling rivalry.
Many of us can remember a moment with this childhood series.
I asked some of my colleagues what their favourite Berenstain Bears book was, or what they remembered about them from childhood. This is what they said:
Rachel - In the Dark: "I remember the pictures from this book more than anything else. I always wanted to take scary stories out of the library like Brother Bear and would end up scaring myself as a kid. I also remember the cartoon version of this story."
Kate F. - The Berenstain Bears And The Spooky Old Tree: "We must’ve had 20 of the Berenstain Bears books growing up, and even though I loved the one where they get the Gimmies, and the one where they eat too much junk food - this one sticks out in my mind because we had the board game that went along with it, so that made it extra fun."
Martin - Green Eyed Monster, The Funny Valentine, Too Much Vacation, Baby Makes Five: "My children enjoy them, they can relate to Green Eyed Monster and Baby Makes Five and my oldest had me read the The Funny Valentine, five straight days over Valentines week. Too Much Vacation is my favourite because Papa bear tries so hard to have a good trip and it does not go well. I can relate to that."
Jenny- There Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room: "I didn’t have a favorite Berenstain Bears book, per se, but this title was the FIRST Berenstain Bears book I owned (paid for with my own allowance money) so it was special to me that way."
Leanne - Trick or Treat: "It was spooky. It captured the whole feeling about Halloween while teaching a lesson about don’t judge by appearance."
Jason: "I read the Berenstain Bears when I was really little, I think by the time I ended kindergarten I had ploughed through all the books that were in the house, and the majority of those in the library. As soon as I finished reading one there was another one ready to go, one of the few perks of having older siblings was that my house was filled with kid’s books. The books were such a big part of being a kid, that the only books I can specifically remember reading were Dr. Seuss and The Berenstain Bears."
Josh - “I was a HUGE Berentain Bears fan as a kid. I used my allowance every week to go to the local Coles and buy whichever title was next on my list. I read them over and over, and took time to study the illustrations and allow my mind to really get lost in that world. I learned countless lessons from Stan and Jan in my early years, and I thank them for this. Choosing a favourite is near impossible, but one of the first that comes to mind is The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail. I loved the sense of adventure in that particular story.”
As you can see, Jan and Stan Berenstain have left their imprint on many of us, and will continue to do so for generations to come. Their legacy will be carried on by their sons, Mike and Leo Berenstain.