The Berenstain Bears

Recently, we were visiting family, staying with my husband’s uncle and aunt.  Their grandchildren are younger than my children, so we were scrounging around for books for my children to read before bed.

Imagine my surprise when I heard shouts of joy.  What were they excited about?  They found their great-aunt & uncle’s stash of Berenstain Bears books!

Even at 13, 11, 9 and 8, my four children immediately plopped down and read through the entire stack of books – several dozen of them.

I enjoyed Berenstain Bears as a child, so I’m thrilled that my children love them too.  The books follow the Bear family – Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Brother Bear (subsequent books added Sister Bear and Honey Bear) and their problems, lessons learned and adventures.  Each book teaches a lesson in dealing with life – bullying, working hard, managing money, fighting, visiting the dentist, etc.

When my children wanted everything they saw in the checkout line, I found The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies and read it to them.  When all they wanted was to watch TV, or eat lots of junk food, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV and The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food found their way onto our reading list.

My children loved these books because they were funny.  I also loved them because they were funny, but also because they taught a gentle lesson to my little listeners.

One thing that has started to grate on me is the portrayal of Papa Bear.  In most of the books, Papa Bear is bumbling and rather idiotic – which makes for great laughs, but can get old when on a steady diet of Berenstain Bears.  As long as you encourage variety in your reading list, you will enjoy the Berenstain Bears books.

And if Papa Bear grates on your nerves, you might enjoy the new “Living Lights Berenstain Bears” books published recently by ZonderKidz. Titles include The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers, … Go to Sunday School, … Love Their Neighbors, etc.  According to the publisher, “Living Lights Berenstain Bear books help children learn how God wants them to live every day.”  In these books, Papa Bear is a steadier, more reliable Papa Bear.  And they are still fun to read.

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