The Bernstein Family Jan, Stan, and mike

Background information:

FAMILY: Stanley and Janice were both born in 1923 during the Great Depression. Both lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but did not meet until 1941. They were married after World War II where Stan served from 1943 to 1946 while Jan worked as a draftsman. While at the war Stan started his drawing of cartoons. After they got married they both worked as cartoonist. They started their family with their first son Leo in 1948 and then Mike in 1951. Stan and Jan continued as cartoonist while writing their books until the '80s. Mike became a book author and illustrator in 1970's and joined his parents in 1980's. In 1922 he joined his parents working on the books. Stan passed in November of 2005 and Jan in February of 2012. He was 82 and she was 88. Mike continued on living in Pennsylvania and working on new books.


Both were very avid readers and enjoyed spending time reading however said they did not consider this a hobby. Another thing they enjoyed doing was following sports, especially the Philadelphia teams. Lastly they enjoyed spending time with their grandchildren.

THE BOOKS: Both of the boys loved Dr. Seuss this is what made Jan and Stan start with their own children's books. Their first book was released 1962 and it was The Big Honey Hunt and Dr. Seuss was the editor and publisher. The Berenstain Bear family then was just Papa, Mama, and Small Bear. In 1974 it changed to Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister bear, then again it changed in 2000 when littlest sister Honey was born. The names Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister were picked to make it easy for young readers. Mike started working with these books in 1992 illustrating and co-writing with his parents.

The first book The Honey Hunt was released in 1962. In the fifty-four years since then over 200 hundred books have been published. With the popularity so high around 250 million copies have been made. In 2004 the publication was moved to HarperCollins from Random House. This is when Mike suggested a sub-line of books for different spiritual themes along with the original stories. They released those in 2008. When Stan and Jan passes Mike continued on writing books.

New Baby is one of my favorite Berenstain Bear books. In this book Small Bear has outgrown his bed because he is getting bigger so him and Papa bear go out and make him and new one. The whole time Small Bear is asking what is going to happen with his bed and finally Papa tells him the Mama is going to have a baby who will need the bed. In the end Small Bear becomes Brother and Sister is added into the family.

Theme of the books:

These books all take place in Bear Country and are centered around The Berenstain Bear family. Usually the kids are faced with a problem and turn to Papa or Mama for help. Most of the books end with Mama being the one who finds or helps to find a solution. The books all have some lesson in them for the readers to learn along with the bear children.

In this book Brother and Sister are going trick or treating with out Mama or Papa. They are talking about how they are afraid to go to the old creepy house because the woman there is mean. However when they go she gives them the best candy of the night. At the end of the book the two bears have learned not to judge a book by its cover.


These books are fiction books that can be used as a "self-help" book. They are great for young readers and have been placed on AR lists for second to fourth grade depending on the students. I read some of these books to the kids I nanny and they all loved them. They are 4, 6, and 7 so pre-K to second grade. What level of understanding will depend on age and how well you explain the concept behind the story. For example not to judge a book by its cover, or adding siblings to the family were both understood by my the four year old I nanny when I was reading the books to her.

Papa is in charge of setting up a haunted house for all of Bear Country at the school. He keeps talking about how it needs to be very scary and and the scarier it is the better. Mama keeps telling him not to go to crazy because just because he likes it does not mean everyone else will. Finally after taking it too far with his kids he decides to take it back and agrees with what Mama had been saying the whole time.


The main trade mark of the books Stan and Jan Berenstain wrote are the bears in the book. This has continued on with their son Mike as the author now.

Interesting facts:

  1. The books were converted to the television in 1979 as a Christmas special. Then from 1985-1986 two seasons aired on CBS, then on PBS in 2002. (See above for example)
  2. Dr. Suess names the Bears
  3. Bears were selected as the stars because Stan said that female bears are “terrifyingly good mothers,” and male bears are “lousy fathers.”
  4. You can see a calendar of Berenstain events just go to and scan the QR code
  5. This interview was very helpful and interesting for me to read! Maybe you will enjoy it too.

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