Many of us look back fondly on our time spent “in the big tree house down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.” We grew up along with Brother and Sister Bear, and together with them, we learned about new babies, trips to the dentist, and taking a family vacation. That’s not all we learned from Stan and Jan Berenstain, though; here are ten times that they addressed more difficult issues.
When Sister Bear begins to act too open and friendly with strangers, Mama and Papa teach her about “stranger danger” and appropriate caution; Sister overreacts and becomes afraid of everyone, while Brother almost takes a car ride with a stranger. Everyone learns valuable lessons about personal safety in this read.
The Bears address obesity and the negative effects of eating poorly on one’s health. Mama notices her family gaining weight and enlists the help of the family doctor to teach Papa and the kids that moderation is key and plenty of activity is essential.
Sister Bear deals with interpersonal conflict when she and her best friend, Lizzy, fight over a toy. Mama must teach her to consider others’ feelings and how to work through disagreements to preserve friendship.
In 1993, when Stan and Jan wrote this book, they probably never imagined the depth to which bullies would go to, these days, to torment someone. However, the lessons they impart through Sister’s battle with “Tuffy,” a big bully, are still appropriate today. Sister learns to avoid conflict, but also learns the importance of asking for help if things get too out of hand.
The Bears tackle climate change and promote environmentalism when Brother and Sister form an “Earthsavers” Club and try to convince the people of Bear Country to take better care of the planet.
The Bears are forced to deal with the effects of consumerism when Brother and Sister begin to want everything they see advertised on television. Mama and Papa must explain to them that commercials aren’t always true to life and that they already have more than enough.
Papa teaches Brother and Sister about financial responsibility by having them manage their allowances with a “checking account.”
Sister Bear must navigate the grieving process when her pet goldfish, Goldie, dies. To make matters worse, Papa tries to replace Goldie without Sister knowing; she not only has to deal with grief, but the inappropriate responses to it.
The Bears greet their new neighbors only to find out that they look very different, and as a result, they must confront their own mistrust of other “races/ethnicities.”
Brother and Sister Bear learn an important lesson about honesty when they break a lamp while Mama and Papa are out. Their lies become so outlandish that they make the situation far worse than it would’ve been if they’d just told the truth.
Stan and Jan Berenstain (and now their son, Mike) have created an entire library of stories about the Bear family. While many are just fun adventures, these insightful and entertaining books are designed to help your children navigate through tough topics.
YouTube Channel: The Berenstain Bears – Official
Featured image via NY Waterway