I was with shock and great sadness that I read the news that Jan Berenstain has passed away. Like so many of us who have come of age in the last 50 years, I grew up reading the Berenstain Bears books. It was a gentle world that I could relate to, and I loved it for that. I remember vividly reading one book in particular every time I visited my grandmother’s house – it was “No Girls Allowed”. I’d run for the book as soon as my family arrived at Grandmom’s for a visit, then quietly settle myself down to read it. At one point, my grandmom said I could take the book back home when I left, but I explained to her then I wouldn’t have it to look forward to at her house. For my next birthday, Grandmom bought me my own copy, so I could have one at home and one with her.
This well-loved children’s series gave us characters that we could all see ourselves in. Who among us has not experienced feeling left-out, selfish, shy, bullied, or lazy? With every experience Mama, Papa, Brother and Sister have gone through since 1962, there has always been a lesson to be learned, and that message always comes through gently, allowing the characters to grow closer to their readers.
Jan Berenstain called Bucks County home for many years, and I am grateful for the legacy she leaves behind not just to the local community, but indeed, to the world. The charms of the world she and huband Stan created will live on for generations to come. Rest well, Mrs. Berenstain, and thank you for the gift you have given all of us.