I grew up reading these books and had nothing but fond memories of them, so of course when Lovebug started reading them I was excited. They were one of the few series of books that I didn’t feel the need to preview before letting her read. Weren’t they all cute and funny with good moral lessons?
A year and a half or so ago, while browsing the library for another stack of books to take home, Lovebug brought me a book and said “I don’t think this is appropriate for me”. She was right!
She was looking at the chapter books because she’s able to read them, and found this. It’s about dating, and not only dating, but jealousy because Brother bear likes a girl that other guys like. REALLY?
According to Amazon, the reading level for this book is 9-12. What 9-12 year olds do you know that are allowed to date? For that matter, do you know anyone that is allowed to date & mature enough to date that would be reading the Berenstain Bears?
I think not.
After looking through a few more of the Berenstain Bears Chapter books (more inappropriate topics, especially for this age group), I put a ban on those. I told Lovebug we’d stick with the non-chapter, “wholesome” ones. She moved on to some other series, and it hasn’t really come up again until yesterday.
We were at the local library and she came across a huge selection of the Berenstain Bears books again. The smaller, paperback, “young reader” ones. I even found a few that were of a Christian nature talking about God, good character issues and including Bible verses.
“Great!”, I thought as we picked out a stack. Maybe they have made some changes and gone a new route. We read the Christian based ones first, and things were looking good.
Then it happened again. Right there in the middle of a seemingly innocent childhood book.
SPIN THE BOTTLE.
Yes, the kissing game. No, this wasn’t another chapter book targeted at those “older” pre-teens.
This was Sister bear’s SIXTH birthday party. What were you thinking Papa & Mama Bear?? Stan & Jan Berenstain, you should be ashamed of yourselves!
This one has a reading level of ages 4-8. FOUR to EIGHT! Poor Sister bear got upset at her party because she didn’t want to kiss anyone. As well she should have! Her parents were right there, so it’s not even like someone threw a party without permission and would be punished.
I also noticed that they have gotten progressively worse in making Papa Bear look extremely foolish, and in many cases it goes way past humorous into disrespectful. I also dislike the use of slang in children’s books, and one of them had “I dunno” as one of the bears’ responses to someone. I realize that with email and texting slang is common, but it is no way to teach a young child still learning to read and write proper language and grammar skills.
All of these issues combined, and I’m afraid I’m back to previewing each of the Berenstain books before she reads them. They do have some great ones, and we have some favorite old classics by them, but that doesn’t mean we can trust them all.