Warning: Once you read one of these books out loud to your kids, they will ask you to read it to them over and over again and will never get tired of it.
With over 300 titles published as of 2010 and over 260 million books sold, The Berenstain Bears is one of the most enduring and beloved children’s book series ever created. Even though author Stan Berenstain died in 2005, his wife and co-author Jan continues to publish the books with the aid of her son, Leo.
The couple based the characters in the first book, The Honey Hunt (published in 1962) on their own family, including their sons Leo and Mike. As artists, they had been searching for a theme for a children’s book and were encouraged by Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, who edited their first 17 books while advising them on illustration and character development. The first books were written for ages 4-8, though later on there were additional books written for ages 9-12.
The stories, with a seemingly simple premise of a family of bears living in a tree house located in Bear Country, teach young children vocabulary and simple moral lessons and address the problems and rewards of living within a family unit. Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, Sister Bear, and baby Honey Bear live together in their tree house while experiencing problems that young children can relate to, such as forgetting to do chores, fighting with their siblings, and having to make choices between right and wrong.
The books have been published in many different formats including beginner books, chapter books, Peek-a–Board books, Step in to Reading books and lift-the-flap books. The books have been made into videos, promotional products, computer games and a TV series — and will be released as a 3D movie in 2011.
Kids will love the fun interactive site at http://www.berenstainbears.com/ with activities, games, virtual Bear paper dolls, make your own coloring book — and free downloads including a Berenstain screensaver and several mouse cursors. Children can also print, color and play a game called Honey Hunt — the same as the first ever Berenstain book.