Jan BerenstainJan Berenstain, co-author of The Berenstain Bears series of books, died at the end of last week. She was 88. (Stan Berenstain died in 2005 at age 82.) I do not know where I would have been as a parent without the Berenstain Bears to guide me through the murky waters of parenting.

Stan and Jan Berenstain were 18 when they met on their first day at art school in 1941. They married in 1946 and began to create stories that addressed children’s common concerns. The tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain’s own children and grandchildren. No wonder they were so good and spot on with their advice.

At last count, I had about 50 Berenstain Bears books.  My girls are 18 and 20 now, but I hold on to these books for when I am a grandmother.  When the girls were home sick, one of the ways in which we would while away the hours was for me to read each and every Berenstain Bear book.  As a result, each of these excellent books was read many, many times.

I used this family to help me explain so many issues to my daughters.  From how to avoid the “gimmies” to dealing with the school bully, the Berenstain Bear books were my favorite parenting tool.

The Berenstains authored many books on my favorite topic, “money”.  In The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money, Brother and Sister Bear learn that there is more to know about money than just how to spend it.  The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense helps kids understand allowance and how to keep track of the money they spend each week. My favorite all time Berenstain Bears’ book however, was The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies. Mama and Papa Bear join forces to come up with a creative way to help Brother and Sister Bear stop all the begging at the checkout when they go to the store.

Take a trip to the library and take out a few of these jewels to read to your kids tonight.  Maybe even start your own collection.  Either way, it’s a great investment of your time.

Thank you Stan and Jan Berenstain. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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