Stan Berenstain, who with his wife created the popular children’s books about the Berenstain Bears, has died.
In more than 200 books, the Berenstain Bears, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain, helped children for 40 years cope with trips to the dentist, eating junk food and cleaning their messy rooms.
The first Berenstain Bears book, “The Great Honey Hunt,” was published in 1962. The couple developed the series with children’s author Theodor Geisel — better known as Dr. Seuss, then head of children’s publishing at Random House — with the goal of teaching children to read while entertaining them.
I know a post about a children’s book author may seem out of place on a blog mostly devoted to science issues, but I read tons of Berenstain Bears book when I was a tot, and I now have a bunch more for my own kids. They actually have a number of books with a science theme:
The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature
The Berenstain Bears’ Science Fair
The Berenstain Bears on the Moon
The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute
The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone
The Berenstain Bears: Brother Bear Loves Dinosaurs (for really little tykes)
Heck, even one now for the information age: The Berenstain Bears Lost in Cyberspace
Plus, they had a woman doctor, back before Barbie taught girls that “math is hard.”
I wonder sometimes how much books like these and many others shaped my early interest in science. When I was a bit older, I loved Nancy Drew books…my mom had probably 25 of them from when she was young. I’d always buy the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries from the book club in elementary school. I used to read encyclopedias, too, and now that everything is online, it’s rare to even find an actual set of those. As an older child, I graduated to science fiction and “classic” literature, but I could never get into anything too romantic and stereotypically “girly.” And today, I’ve definitely benefited from all that reading and varied interests from my childhood. My daughter is at that age where she’s starting to read more independenly–I hope she learns to love it as much as I do. Thank you, Mr. Berenstain.