In the midst of preparing to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I learned the sad news that Jan Berenstain recently passed away at the age of 88. Interestingly enough, it was their sons’ love of Dr. Seuss that inspired Stan and Jan Berenstain to experiment with writing their own children’s book. The Big Honey Hunt was published by Random House in 1962, with the assistance of an editor named Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Since then, over two hundred books have been published featuring Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and eventually, Honey. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at the age of 82.
I learned to read with Berenstain Bears. My first love was Messy Room. It came with an audiocassette that I listened to repeatedly, in addition to harassing various family members into reading it to me over and over again. I related to Brother and Sister Bear (Brother loved dinosaurs just like me!), especially because my room was perpetually messy. I’m certain that my mother hoped that the book would magically make me want to clean my room. I know this because I bought it for my own daughter hoping that it would have a magical effect on her. Unfortunately, I can’t say that she (or I) became neat and tidy because of the book. But in a way, it was still magical. It, like all the other Berenstain Bears books (and believe me, I think I’ve read almost all of them!) opened a dialogue. This sweet family of bears modeled for us how to discuss problems and arrive at solutions together, tackling everything from going to the doctor to battling the “galloping greedy gimmies”.
Check out these wonderful books for yourself–Messy Room and other titles can be found at the Leesburg Library in the Easy Readers section under “Berenstain Bears”. For more information, check out www.berenstainbears.com.
Thank you, Jan Berenstain!