I was a bit saddened today to read the headline that Jan Berenstain, who with her husband co-created the beloved Berenstain Bears series of children’s books, had passed away.
Growing up, our house was filled with the Berenstain Bears books – we had dozens of the things, teaching lessons of not watching too much TV and eating too much junk food and not talking to strangers. Heck, every year when Easter comes around, I still hear the words from the song that Papa Bear sings when proclaiming that he’ll be the Easter Bunny! “If you want something done, then do it yourself…”
It never even dawned on me at the time, but looking back from a different angle now from a writer’s perspective, it’s actually kind of neat because Stan and Jan were actually a husband and wife team who together shared nearly every aspect of creating each book – from coming up with the initial idea, writing the story itself, and then drawing and coloring the entire thing, too. The entire process for a 32-page, full color book took the pair a couple of months to complete, and over the last 43 years, together they published over 200 children’s books … and that’s not even considering animated TV specials and a whole host of other products across the franchise!
In the 90s, their children also began getting involved with the family business, and after Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005, Jan continued creating the series with one of her sons while the other attended to the business side of things.