Among all the book series my son likes read to him, he tends to gravitate time and time again to the Berenstain Bears. For those of you unfamiliar with the stories, they catalog the lives of the Bear Family who inhabit a tree house down a sunny dirt lane deep in bear country, a fully-ursine society.
Because my son loves them so much, I’m willing to overlook some basic Berenstain-related mythology that makes absolutely no sense. For instance, the Bear Family is literally named Papa, Mama, Sister and Brother. These aren’t cute non-descript names they call themselves in family-only situations, this is really what the entire town refers to them by. Other townspeople have pithy names such as Lizzy Bruin and Miss Honeybear and they don’t bat an eyelash while referring to someone as Sister even though she’s not a nun.
Another plot point that defies conventional wisdom is the ability of Papa Bear to support the family by making homemade rough-finished furniture while Mama gets to be a full time stay-at-home bear. Apparently the Bear Country currency is in firmer standing these days than the American dollar.
Minor quibbles aside, the stories are generally straight-forward morality plays that generally break down into a couple different categories:
Brother and Sister Bear overcome some sort of fear of going someplace new
The Berenstain Bears Go to the Dentist
The Berenstain Bears Go to Summer Camp
The Bear Family learns the value of moderation
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday
The Berenstain Bears Too Much Pressure
Brother and Sister (and sometimes even Papa) learn a new social skill
The Berenstain Bears and the Green Eyed Monster
The Berenstain Bears and the Blame Game
With an eye towards making the series a little more relevant to the modern day parent and pre-school child alike, I’m going to pass along the following title suggestions to Random House for the Berenstain series:
- The Berenstain Bears and Inappropriate Public Nudity
- The Berenstain Bears and Too Many Primaries
- The Berenstain Bears Go on Behavioral Meds
- The Berenstain Bears and Queenie McBear’s Two Moms
- The Berenstain Bears Try to Destigmatize American Public Transportation
- The Berenstain Bears and Sister’s Secret Shame
- The Berenstain Bears and Too Much F****ing Webkinz