Last night, I was reminded of our family’s love of The Berenstain Bears books. (Happy Sigh.) Before I go any further in my homage, please understand — I’m not claiming these books are stellar literature. I’m just saying that we read a lot of Berenstain Bear books at our house once upon a time, and we loved, loved, loved them. And the we includes me. Absolutely. Yes, I know they are formulaic, preachy, and moralistic. Obviously, they flaunt flagrant gender stereotypes. And normally, I steered clear of such books for my young impressionable readers…but goodness, we loved those Berenstain Bears!
My daughter’s piano teacher reminded us of them — she, too, adored the books. We’ve been reorganizing closets and rooms lately and she commented how much The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room informed her own (now adult) need for organization and tidiness. Instantly, we all remembered how wonderful the pegboard Papa Bear made was, and how satisfying and inspiring the neatly labeled and stacked boxes full of Brother and Sister Bear’s treasures were.
We continued our love fest, remembering together other important books in the series — the milestones and transitions books, the anxiety-addressing books, the healthy habits series, and the behavior modification titles — we loved them all! The list of titles is long. (I was amazed how long.) We didn’t have nearly as many as there are, but we had a lot — purchased for pittance at garage sales, inherited from older friends, rescued from the trash bin at the library…. And I must’ve passed them on, because in the recent reshuffling of the bookshelves not a Berenstain Bear book was to be found.
But the lessons remain: kindness and gratitude are important, too much junk food or TV is just too much, taking the time to do things right yields better results, and new situations are less daunting when we know something of what to expect. We never watched the TV shows or bought any of the merchandise etc., but I’d say Berenstain Bears were a significant part of our kiddos’ childhood. And I am not ashamed.
Are there books you read with kids (or have read with them) that you’re just a little…shy about admitting to? Books you found in the check-out lane at the grocery store, in a bin of dreck at the library, or for week after week in your kid’s backpack? You know the ones I’m talking about.
Now, how many of those did you secretly love? How many did your kids adore? Did you have a ____________ stage in your household’s reading? ‘Fess up! I’ve led the way — WE LOVE (present tense!) THE BERENSTAIN BEARS!