The Berenstain Bears
The Berenstain Bears, a series of short childhood books that tells the stories and lessons learned of a family of bears, was one of my favorite childhood reads. Every night before bed, I would ask my dad to read to me about the adventures of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear. Written by Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain, the series was first created in 1962 with the publication of The Big Honey Hunt. Since then, over 300 books have been written about the bears and about 260 million copies sold. The Berenstain Bears lived in a house-sized treehouse “down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country“. Papa Bear was the epitome of a father figure, as he hunted for the food, did all the laborious work, and made goofy mistakes, and Mama Bear was the wise mother who always had cookies waiting for the children when they came home from school. Papa and Mama Bear had three children: Brother Bear, Sister Bear, and eventually the small Honey Bear. The four bears generally went on adventures and simple daily activities, and through them the Bears, along with the child reader, usually learned moral or safety-related lessons. As Elizabeth Segel points out in her writing about Gender and Childhood Reading (65-80), gender preferences and stereotypes greatly dominate what books boys and girls pick out when given the choice. However, Berenstain Bears was one of the few series that appealed to both sexes, and therefore greatly helped its success. The series is known as a childhood classic, and was one of my most memorable aspects of childhood.