May 3rd, 2010 by ariana
Right before Jasper was born I picked up a few old books at a consignment sale, books for older kids (i.e. non board books) like Paddington Bear. On a whim I dug them out of the closet recently and turns out Jasper is ready for these more wordy stories.. he now LOVES paddington and mommy is more entertained too because these books have more interesting story lines than the average baby book.
So the other night I was at Marshalls and decided to see what other “older” baby books I could find and grabbed a Berenstain Bears book called “The Berenstain Bears Do their Best.” It’s a non board book, has bears, what’s not to love right?
Imagine my surprise when I got to this stanza on the third page:
“A Kite for me and Sister Bear?
A kite for both of us to share?
Let’s thank the Lord from up above for Papa showing us his love.”
It goes on from there:
But we believed in Papa’s skill.
And our faith in God’s help is stronger still”
I felt like I was in some strange alternate universe.. the Berenstain bears.. we used to read those to my little sister, they weren’t religious! And if they WERE religious, wouldn’t the Berenstain bears be JEWISH? (As it turns out, the series creator Stan was in fact Jewish. It was his evangelical son that started this new “living lights” series of Faith based Berenstain books after his father’s death.)
Now, I don’t want to offend anyone with this post, I’m aware that I have plenty of readers of all faiths and I’m really happy about that. But Jasper is somewhere between 50-75% Jewish and none of us are practicing anything. So I’m not saying that there’s anything overtly wrong with faith, or even religious books for kids, but if you take a well known character and insert religion at a later date, it would be really nice to maybe notate that rather prominently to warn off non religious types like me that this is probably not a book you want to buy for your child!
Had I very carefully read the back cover, I would have noticed in fine print where it said “Living Lights Berenstain Bear books help children learn how God wants them to live every day.”
But, I did not because, well, I wasn’t aware that I needed to be on the look out for such things.
Again, if you are a person of faith you might actually prefer the faith based Bears to the old ones I remember from childhood. But I personally find it somewhat disturbing that any of us have to even worry about scrutinizing classic character books for faith insertions of any kind.
I wonder if perhaps the Living Lights Publishers got similar feedback because subsequent titles became much less ambiguous. For example:
For now, I think we’ll stick to Paddington, and I’ll be reading the back and front covers much more carefully before purchasing from now on…
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