Since becoming a mom, I have enjoyed a walk down nostalgia lane. I love seeing my daughter play with all of my old toys—Cabbage Patch dolls, Teddy Ruxpin, and my light bright toy! It brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood, and I love that she enjoys playing with the same toys that her mommy did. More than the toys, my all-time favorite nostalgic childhood items are my books.
My parents gave me boxes of my old books shortly before my daughter was born. The musty smell of old books and just looking at the wear and tear from them makes my heart happy. Some of our favorite books from my childhood that we love to read are Berenstain Bear books. My daughter loves reading about the family who lives down the sunny dirt road deep in Bear County. The lessons taught in these stories still ring true today. These are my top five favorite aspects of these books.
- Brother and sister are normal cubs (or kids!). They lie (The Berenstain Bears and The Truth), they have sibling rivalry (The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight), they don’t like to clean their room (The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room) and they have trouble listening to their parents (The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Grown Ups). They are definitely not perfect by any means, and that’s okay! They learn how to grow up, respect others and see life through the eyes of other people, and that is one of the reasons why I love these books.
- Mama and papa sometimes don’t agree on how to raise the cubs. In The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmes, Brother and Sister Bear are overcome with materialism and they want everything in sight. Papa Bear gives in and gives them what they want in the beginning, much to Mama Bear’s dismay. After talking to Gran and Gramps Bears, the two cubs learn how their grandparents dealt with this when Papa Bear was a young cub. I love that the young cubs not only learn a lesson in this book, but that Mama and Papa Bear look to the Cubs’ grandparents and learn a lesson in parenting themselves.
- It’s okay to not always win or get your way. In The Berenstain Bears Play a Good Game, Papa Bear teaches the cubs a great lesson when he tells them, “it’s not whether you win or lose that counts, but how you play the game!” Good reminder of how to be a good sport and play fairly.
- Technology and things that are supposed to make our lives easier sometimes do the opposite and take us away from what’s important to us. In The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TVand The Berenstain Bears’ Computer Trouble, the bear family learns that there is more to life than technology. In Too Much TV, Mama Bear realizes that the family is spending too much time in front of the television. Everyone soon learns that spending time outside, reading books, playing games and being together as a family is more important than watching TV all the time. In the timely Computer Trouble, Papa Bear makes rules about how much time the family can spend online. This book is a good starting point to discuss internet safety and bullying, as well as discussing tablet and cell phone safety with your children. It is also a good reminder to set time rules regarding technology. Might be a good idea to set aside a whole day a week for your family to go technology free!
- Always thinking about the feelings and needs of others is an important lesson. We see this lesson time and time again in so many of the Berenstain Bear books. In The Berenstain Bears Truth About Gossip, Sister Bear learns just how much of a weapon her words can be and also how it feels to have someone say things about you behind your back. In The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear, Brother and Sister Bear learn about the importance of giving instead of receiving many Christmas presents.
I love the Berenstain Bear books and the lessons they hold were timely decades ago and today as well. I hope that my daughter will be able to read these stories to her children someday.
What are your favorite books from your childhood?