berenstain bearsWhen my kids were still in the "Read me ANOTHER bedtime story, Mommy!" phase, I'd say we owned at least 8,542 Berenstain Bears books. And that's a conservative estimate. As a parent, there were two things I liked about the series: First of all, they made me nostalgic for my own childhood ... my mother read me some of the very same titles when I was a kid.

Second of all, no matter what developmental phase my kids happened to be going through, there was always a Berenstain Bears book to help tackle the issue head-on (but still in a colorful, kid-friendly, anthropomorphic animal kind of way). Bad dreams? Stranger danger? First trip to the dentist? Too much junk food? Sharing toys? Those bears had the answer.

So I was sad to hear about the passing of Jan Berenstain, the children's author who co-created the Berenstain Bears with her husband Stan: She passed away on February 24th at the age of 88.

But certainly, the Berenstain legacy will live on for generations to come ...

Chances are you're already well-acquainted with Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother Bear. But if you're just meeting the family and don't know where to start, here are my recommendations for the 5 Essential Berenstain Bears Books every kid should have. (You'll probably end up with several thousand, like me, but everybody's gotta start somewhere.)

1. The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Chores. Yuck, chores! Everybody hates them! Leave it to clever Mama to teach those lazy clubs a lesson.

2. The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster. Jealousy is kind of an abstract concept to explain to little kids. Let this story of Brother Bear's new bike and Sister Bear's raging envy do it for you.

3. The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day. Got a big move coming up? Read this one a few times before you break the news. "Oh boy, Sister and Brother love their new house!"

4. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday. If you've ever put your heart and soul (and paycheck) into throwing the best birthday party in the whole world only to find yourself surrounded by screaming 3-year-olds, this one's for you.

5. The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. Full disclosure: My mom bought me this one a billion years ago in the hopes I'd be inspired to clean up my own room. (I never got the hint, but maybe your little one will!)

Do your kids love the Berenstain Bears? Which is your favorite?

 

Image via Amazon