Jan Berenstain’s passing has left a sad little bear-shaped hole in my heart today.
The co-creator and co-author of the Berenstain Bears passed away last Friday after suffering a severe stroke the day before.
My brother and I loved the Berenstain Bears. We read all their books. My mother bought them for my brother (who was four years younger and more into bears than I) but I read them all. I even read them to him (partially to have an excuse – my fourth-grade ego couldn’t admit to liking them on my own account).
The Berenstain Bears had an impact on my life for another reason too. They were the first books I remember that could make a “non-reader” want to read.
I’ve been a bookworm all my life, but my brother found more enjoyment in physical activities. He rarely dropped everything for a printed page. But the Berenstain Bears (and Richard Scarry) were exceptions that could make a very active boy sit down and be quiet for minutes at a stretch. Brother Bear and Goldbug were characters he related to – among his few friends in the world of storybooks.
Stan and Jan Berenstain created a world where every child was welcome. It had everything from adventure to moral lessons – taught with a sense of humor that still rings true after over thirty years.
The world is a little less bear-able without Jan Berenstain in it, but fortunately her books remain for new generations to enjoy. If you haven’t picked one up (or picked one up lately) please do. It’s the best eulogy any writer can enjoy.