Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Berenstain Bear Books

Berenstain Bear Books
Written and illustrated by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Published by Random House books for Young Readers
Ages: 4-8 years

One half of a pair of writers who created one of A's favourite book series, passed away on friday, 24th February 2012. Jan Berentstain was the co-creator of the Berenstain Bears books, with her writer-illustrator husband Stan Berenstain, who passed away 7 years ago. She was 88. Co-incidently, the first book created and published in this series was The Big Honey Hunt written for The Cat in the Hat beginner book series in 1962 at the behest of Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel), whose birthday falls on 2nd March.

A loves the Berenstain Bears Books, and we have tried to collect them all. Every time we visit a book store, she checks out their collection from the series, and we pick up the ones we don't yet have. They feature a family of bears living in a tree house (adventure!) - goofy, lovable Papa Bear, sensible, wise Mama Bear, with Sister Bear and Brother Bear, their everyday lives, the ordinary things that matter to them, the things they learn and do, and the scrapes they get into.    

When she was younger, (OK, even now), the wisdom in these books has guided us through many dilemmas- over and above a heart-to-heart discussion. The books make it easier for us both in considering how to approach a particular situation. Whether it was her fear of the dark, an annoying habit that she picked up somewhere, dealing with peer pressure, focusing on fixing a problem instead of trying to fix the blame,  taking a sensible stand when someone says- "I dare you to..."dealing with jealousystranger danger or bullies, learning about money...you name it, the Berenstain Bears had a book about it.

One does have to keep in mind, though, that even though the books offer, sensible, home-grown advice in a palatable, story form, many of these books have been written in the 60s and 70s, and there may be some dating of the context. One also needs to be mindful of some gender/racial stereotyping, much like that in the otherwise wonderful books by Enid Blyton.

A wonderful collection of books that is fun to read for both child and parent alike. We have spent many happy hours reading them together, discussing them, and returning to them again and again at any time a relevent situation presented itself. A great help to parents who may not have the luxury of an easily accesible extended family.

Pictures courtesy Flipkart. Crossposted.


Choxbox said...

As I will never tire of saying - your reviews and comments are as good as the book being reviewed itself!

And hey didn't realise they were a husband-wife pair!

Sheela said...

Thanks, Sandhya, for bringing these books to the next generation. We've enjoyed some of them whole-heartedly. I agree with your note about the content/context being dated a bit. The books are not just a fun read but also have a lot to offer by way of handling some tricky situations.

utbtkids said...

I have been introduced to the PBS show first. Please note I, not the kids. Some sick days, I have sent the children to school and dozed off on the couch watching BB :) The children have watched few episodes and have enjoyed equally.

The point is, having watched BB TV show, that has been conceptualized in the contemporary times, I didn't catch any gender biases. In fact I was happy that it was fairly neutral and stayed away from the well beaten Simpson's part where the boy is super naughty bordering on obnoxious and the girl super intelligent/nerdy. Love papa bear!

Vibha said...

Same as utbt said, I used to enjoy the show thoroughly and later picked up the books when the kids started reading.

We have a big collection of BB books at home and I find them often picking those books up and reading them over and over again.

Mala said...

I haven't read most of the "lessons" books. But one that I absolutely love (and thankfully my 4.5 year old boy does too) is "He Bear, She Bear". It does a great job of nipping gender biases in the bud - the girl bear and boy bear basically say they can grow up to be anything.

sandhya said...

Thanks, all.

The fact that these books are pulled out by the kid now and again, even though she now reads far beyond them, is a testimony to their charm.

Priya said...

My son absolutely loves BB books. He just turned 3, but it's a night routine for us to read 1 BB book twice before he goes to bed. We have almost the entire collection. These books also teach me how to be patient like Mama bear and provides useful tips to both adults on kids on how to explain in simple terms things like what a habit means, or what to expect from a new baby, or how to ask for help when you need it or..
I could go on, I love these as much as my son does.

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