Stan (September 29, 1923 – November 26, 2005) and Jan Berenstain (July 26, 1923 – February 24, 2012), often called The Berenstains, were American writers and illustrators best known for creating the children’s book series The Berenstain Bears.
In an interview about the books, the Berenstains said that a big reason behind their inspiration was some of the difficulties parents faced, as well as some childhood tribulations when they were kids themselves. The Berenstains also noted there were some issues which seemed to appear in every generation, such as kids throwing tantrums in public places, which made important subject matter for their stories. However, they deliberately wanted to steer clear of overly heavy issues, such as violence. In their later years, critics sometimes dismissed the books for having social attitudes stuck in the 1950s along with the bears’ clothing styles and penchant for activities such as playing jacks and hopscotch, even though they did change with the times somewhat by introducing things like video games and cell phones.
The Berenstain Bears is a series of children’s books which feature a family of anthropomorphic grizzly bears who generally learn a moral or safety-related lesson in the course of each story. Since the 1962 debut of the first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt, the series has grown to over 300 titles, which have sold approximately 260 million copies in 23 languages. The Berenstain Bears franchise has also expanded well beyond the books, encompassing two television series and a wide variety of other products and licenses. While enjoying decades of popularity, the series has been criticized for its perceived saccharine tone and formulaic storytelling.