‘Berenstain Bears’ Author Dies, Leaves Potential Christian Legacy

I loved the Berenstain Bears books when I was growing up: they taught values without being preachy or boring. I even followed Brother and Sister Bear into their brief YA series where they explained why drugs are bad and were nice to the kid in the wheelchair. The authors, Stan and Jan Berenstain, were a real-life married couple. Stan passed away several years ago, and Jan died last week at the age of 88.

Many of the original Berenstain books (including my personal favorite, The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies) are still in print. However, Stan and Jan’s son Mike took the books in a slightly different direction. Last year, he did a six book Berenstain series for Christian publisher Zondervan, where the famous bears learned about praying and going to church.”I felt that we are called upon to use your talents in the service for God,” he explained to the Christian Post.

The Berenstain Bears’ Christian books seem to be going full steam ahead: there is a Berenstain Bears Bible and a Berenstain Bible Storybook due out in 2013. Though Stan and Jan kept their own personal religious beliefs separate from their characters, it seems likely that Mike Berenstain’s own mission will be to keep his parents’ work going–in a much more Christian direction.

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  • Eileen Nguyen

    How sad. I remember in my very first theology class that my professor told us we absolutely could not use anything published by Zondervan as a source for our textual analysis paper. I loved the Berenstein bears for the same reasons you did, and while there’s always room for religious kids’ stuff (Veggie Tales!), it’s too bad for something that was so easy for lots of people to relate to, to go less mainstream.

  • Ursyl

    Whatever. I won’t be buying those for any future grandchildren. His parents’ work was just plain Good. Interestingly enough, without the need to shove religion into it.

  • This is truly disheartening. I loved those books as a child.

  • Marie

    Jan helped her son with the books, when he had already decided to go with Zondervan. It is easy to miss that info, but it is in the Christian Post article you site: “His mother, now 87, continues work with him on the series.”