September 29th – Stan Berenstain

“He is often wrong but never in doubt”

– Papa Bear

Stanley Melvin Berenstain was born September 29th, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As soon as I tell you what he wrote, you’re going to think I misspelled it. But I didn’t – look it up. It’s The Berenstain Bears series of books.

And Stan seems just as wholesome as his books are. He met his wife Jan (yep – well, actually Janice, but they both shortened their name for publishing) on the first day of art school at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941. Stan was drafted into the Army during WWII, but he was blind in one eye, so he was given limited service as a medical illustrator.  After the war ended, he married Jan on April 17th, 1946, and they were married for 59 years, until Stan’s death in 2005. 

The Berenstains worked as successful cartoonists, with several adult humor books and cartoon features in magazines. They had two children, Leo in 1948 and Mike in 1951. After their children showed enthusiasm for Dr. Seuss’ books they tried their hand at their own children’s book. Their first children’s book, The Big Honey Hunt, featuring the Berenstain Bears, was published in 1962, with Dr. Seuss himself working as the editor and publisher. They followed with over 350 more books. Their son Mike Berenstain joined the family Bear business and incorporated a Christian-themed line of Berenstain books (Stan was born to a secular Jewish family). 

Stan Berenstain died on November 26th, 2005, from cancer. His wife Jan died of a stroke on February 24th, 2012. The Berenstain Bears are still going strong.

Lesson from Berenstain:

There were a lot of bears on the market when the Berenstain’s wrote their first book (Paddington, Pooh), but that didn’t dissuade them. They presented simple old-fashioned books with morals and lessons that seemed to transcend time. And kids love them. They were never, ever trying to be trendy, and it worked very successfully for them. 

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