Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Berenstain Bears Go Christian!

Having grown up a fan of The Berenstain Bears series, I couldn't wait to start building a collection of the books for my own girls. Wholesome, helpful, and always entertaining, this is a line of books you simply can't go wrong with. As I've worked to grow our collection I've actually found myself going out of my way to look for specific books in the series just because I wanted the training material in them. Seriously, the authors always included such great moral lessons within their stories. Kids would read them for the sheer entertainment value, but they'd unknowingly garner helpful concepts and life lessons along the way.

So it's needless to say that I was absolutely thrilled to discover, late last year, that ZonderKidz has begun publishing a new line of The Berenstain Bears books. The original series has always included excellent morals within their stories, but seeing a line that actively talks about God really caught my eye. What a great way to take an already familiar product and really bump it up a notch. How many kids and families will be blessed simply because they pick up one of these books based on the characters alone due to their familiarity with the original series? As a mom who loves to introduce her girls to the books she read and fell in love with as a kid herself, I could not have been happier to discover these books.

A big thanks goes to Lindsey R at Zonderkidz for sending me the following Berenstain Bears books to review here at Ready Set Read Reviews. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to review the first four books in this new line, and excited to be able to add them to my daughters' growing Berenstain Bears collection.

Below are my reviews of the first two books. Since my girls won't leave me alone long enough, the other two will have to follow just a little later. It seems it's time to go to Grandma's, and mommy isn't moving quite quick enough to satisfy the impatient masses (ie the 3 and 5 yr old). :P

The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71247-3

In this book the cubs learn about doing unto others. It's not always easy to keep in mind that we want to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated. But living by the Golden Rule is something the Bear family strives for. When Mama and Papa Bear give Sister a gold heart locket with the Golden Rule inscribed, they use it as not only a reminder but a learning tool for Sister.

There's a new girl at school, but she's not quite as cool as all the rest. Sister knows in her heart she should befriend her; however, it's all too easy to go with the rest of the crowd. The gold locket hanging around her neck seems to weigh heavier than when she first put it on though, and it's then the realization hits her. She's not treating the new girl in a way she'd like to be treated. Infact she'd actually been in her shoes once when she was the new girl in town.

I loved how this story reinforced the idea of treating others the way you want to be treated. Berenstain used a great example which will be easy for children to relate to, and therein the idea will hopefully be even more likely to stick. It's a lesson every child (parents too) can use to be reminded of.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Berenstains God Loves You by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71250-3

When Sister tries out to be cast in the school play and Brother tries out for the school basketball team, each is desperately hoping to succeed. Neither does though, and each is devestated. Despite being named the Stage Manager and the Team Manager, both Sister and Brother are sad and feel like they've missed out on something great. Then to top things off, they have to walk home in the rain, and if that's not the icing on the top of the cake they simply don't know what is.

But the misery is tiresome. Mama and Papa understand the disappointed their cubs are feeling, but likewise they hate to see them sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. With the weather clearing, they suggest a family walk in the great outdoors. Along the way, the Bear family discovers a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Seeing a great opportunity to impart a bit of hope and wisdom into their cubs, Mama and Papa use the chance to tell them about God's love. Using the rainbow as an example, Mama and Papa explain to Sister and Brother how much God loves us no matter whether we fail or make mistakes. Just like a mama and papa always loves their child, no matter what, so does God love us, We might not be perfect, and God might not always love what we do but he always loves us. And He shows us this through His wonderful creation.

In this story children will be reminded to try their best, but to not be too upset if they don't always get what they want. Sometimes an even better offer comes that we weren't expecting, and if we'd have gotten what we wanted initially we'd have missed out one this greater opportunity. Through this book children will learn to be more appreciative of all they have and how much God does for them.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts


RCJ said...

Thank you for these reviews, I am so excited as a new father about the prospects of purchasing these series of Berenstain Bears books. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

These books are fantastic, but god is irrelevant. I grew up in the religion of Christianity, but if you actually think about it logically, it's doesn't make sense. There are too many things available to us in modern society that logically make the belief in a deity absurd. The greeks used to call it Deus Ex Machina. "Machine of the Gods". As if something outside of natural reality is going to change things for a purpose. Logically that is ridiculous. Most religious texts, if you look at them closely are ridiculous. If these books are Christian or not it doesn't make them better. We should have a standard moral backbone as humanity at this point. You don't need the Koran, or the Bible, or any other religious book or leader to tell you how to live a good honest life. There is too much provable science available to people at this point to put "faith" in a text that was written within the last 2000 years, when modern man has walked the earth for 190,000 years. Food for thought. Great books though.