For many, childhood just wouldn't be the same without the comforting, entertaining tales penned and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Their Berenstain Bears books, featuring Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear, have become classics among preschoolers and their parents. The colorful illustrations and tender stories address common concerns that kids face including — watching too much television, working hard, manners and dealing with bullies. In an age when familial relationships are often a bit shaky, the Berenstain Bears books elevated the family to magical status.
In 2001, Berenstain told the Associated Press, "They say jokes don't travel well, but family humor does. Family values is what we're all about."
Even though Stan died in 2005, Jan continued to write books right up until her last days. "Every day she was very productive," their son, Mike Berenstain, told the AP. "She was working on two books and had been doing illustrations until the day before she passed." The literary franchise will continue in the hands of Mike and his brother, Leo.
With about 260 million Berenstain Bears books sold, fans can be found far and wide. With Jan's passing, interest in the endearing books has been rekindled.
"When I heard that Jan Berenstain died, I made sure to browse my collection of Berenstain Bears books at bedtime," says Sophia, a mom of three in Arizona. "I've always loved The Bears' Picnic so I read it, first by myself, and then to my kids. Few authors are able to tell stories like the Berenstains. Jan will definitely be missed."
"I remember flipping through The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist in the dentist's office when I was about 10 years old," recalls Kelly, a mom of two from California. "I read the same book to my kids the day before their first dentist appointment. It was a neat way to bridge the generation gap and revel in our shared experience. That book will always be special to me."
In homage of Jan Berenstain's talent and legacy, you may want to revisit (or visit for the first time), the first book in the long-running series, The Big Honey Hunt, which was published in 1962. While Mrs. Berenstain will definitely be missed, parents and kids everywhere can continue to enjoy the adventures of the Berenstain Bear family — and celebrate their own family along the way.
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