Loss of Berenstain Bears Co-Creator Felt in Indian Country


Jan Berenstain, who wrote and illustrated the beloved Berenstain Bears books with her husband Stan, has passed away. She suffered a stroke last Thursday and passed away Friday, February 24 at 88 years old.

The first of the Berenstain Bears books, “The Big Honey Hunt,” was published in 1962 with the help of Theodor Gisel, aka Dr. Seuss, who was then a children’s book editor with Random House.

According to The Associated Press, the tales of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear have been translated into 23 languages, most recently Arabic and Icelandic.

“They say jokes don’t travel well, but family humor does,” Jan Berenstain told the AP in 2011. “Family values is what we’re all about.”

The family humor even made its way into the Lakota language. Last year, the Lakota Language Consortium (LLC) finished dubbing 20 episodes of Math?ó Waú?šila Thiwáhe, or The Compassionate Bear Family into the Native American language.

“The Berenstain family has been incredibly generous with their creations, and have helped the Lakota language tremendously by allowing their characters to speak Lakota,” said Wil Meya, LLC executive director. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Mike [Jan and Stan’s son] and the rest of the Berenstain group. Jan’s heart was always in the right place–she and her late husband Stan were a model of what is possible to accomplish with humor and gentleness.”

Read more about Jan and Stan Berenstain, who passed away in 2005, from The Associated Press.

See the last of the 20 dubbed episodes here.