From Stan and Jan Berenstain. This version was published in 1977 by Random House.
A few months ago I had so much joy and pride for my own little bear. My son took part in his school’s science fair and won an award! He and his mom worked so hard on his project and his excitement was infectious. I was so proud of him and not only was his experiment, “The Mix of Vinegar and Baking Soda”, a learning experience for him but he also ran around checking out every other activity the school had set up. I remembered when I was younger and our local children’s science museum, the Sci-Tech Center, had Super Science Saturdays with all sorts of experiments and demonstrations and animals and so much more. My son’s nickname is Bear and I was excited to find this copy of the Berenstain Bears going to a Science Fair. One night we sat down and read the entire book.
This features the classic four member family and features cameos from familiar bears around town. For my son, this was his first time seeing any of the Berenstain family but he was immediately taken in and enjoying the characters and this adventure. There is about to be a local science fair and every member of the family wants to come up with a display for the event. Throughout their journey we learn about the states of matter, simple machines, and energy. This printing is from 1977 and yet my son still followed along without issue. There were no questions about cell phones or the internet. These Bears are timeless and so is the science that is presented. A wheel always turns, water can always freeze or melt, and children are always curious. Most of this he already knows at his age but there’s nothing wrong with reinforcing knowledge, especially by using adorable animals.
This most fantastic element, the human bear society, acted as a way into what could have been considered a boring science book. Not only do kids love animals and seeing themselves in stories. I am now noticing that adults that don’t look like adults help as well. Papa Bear and Mama Bear may be the parents but they are bears first. Nothing comes across as a boring lesson, but instead as a fun conversation. It also didn’t hurt that Papa Bear was constantly making mistakes along the way. Bumbling dads will always be a staple of comedy.
It’s probably been 35 years since I sat down to read anything from the Berenstain Bears but this hour or two of quality time not only was full of science lessons, but also lessons in family and love.