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"Family values is what we're all about."
-Jan Berenstain, New York Times, 2012
It is conceivable that most children and their parents are familiar with The Berenstain Bears. The strikingly human family of bears has been a staple in homes since 1962. The authors and illustrators of more than one hundred titles of bear books were married. Stan and Jan Berenstain met at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1941, and they soon found success with cartoons in the Saturday Review of Literature. Eventually, their cartoons were appearing in major publications like Colliers. The Berenstains illustrated their first book in 1948, The Berenstain's Baby Book, which was inspired by Better Homes Baby Book by McCall's. Beginning in 1956, they authored a monthly cartoon, It's All in the Family, published in Good Housekeeping until 1990. The Berenstains continued to publish their children's books, including chapter books they co-produce with sons Michael, an illustrator, and Leo, a writer. Several of their books have been made into animated film features and released on home video. A CD-ROM has been produced about the bear family, and the bears have inspired the Berenstain Bear Country attraction at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Stan and Jan lived in Solebury Township, Pennsylvania. Together they wrote more than three hundred books. Stan Berenstain died on November 26, 2005, at Doylestown Hospital. He was eighty-two-years-old. Jan Berenstain passed away on February 24, 2012 in Solebury, at the age of eighty-eight.
Stan and Jan Berenstain. Photograph by Jack Rosen. James A. Michener Art Museum.
Education and Training
Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now University of the Arts), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941
Stan entered the service, 1943-1946
Jan took a year off from school to do war work, 1943-1946
Stan studied at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1946
Teachers and Influences
Both are avid fans of literary humorists Mark Twain, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Ambrose Bierce, Oscar Wilde, Robert Benchley, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman.
In the area of cartooning, they admire Peter Arno, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Daniel Alain, Saul Steinberg, and Perry Barlow.
Sterling Lord, agent and long-time friend, led them to Theodore Suess Geisel (Dr. Suess), who helped the Berenstains make the transition from magazine covers and cartoon books to writing and illustrating children's beginner books with their Bear family. This led to over 30 years of the Berenstain Bears.
Connection to Bucks County
The Berenstains moved to Bucks County in 1976 from Elkins Park. They currently lived in Solebury Township, where most of the Berenstain Bears series were written.
Major Group Exhibitions
Bucks County Illustrators Exhibition, 1981
The Berenstain Bears Celebrate: The Art of Stan and Jan Berenstain, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2002
Manuscript Collection, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Novels and Short Stories
Marital Blitz, 1954
It's All in the Family, 1958
The Facts of Life for Grown-Ups, 1963
Never Trust Anyone Over 13, 1970
Are Parents for Real?, 1972
What Your Parents Never Told You About Being a Mom or Dad, 1995
The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree, NBC, 1979
The Bears' Nature Guide, 1976
The Berenstain Bears' Science Fair, 1978
The Bear Detectives, 1986
The Bears' Almanac, 1986
The Bears' Vacation, 1986
Bears in the Night, 1986
The Bear Scouts, 1986
The Bike Lesson, 1986
The Bears' Picnic, 1986
Inside, Outside, Upside Down, 1986
Old Hat, New Hat, 1986
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree, 1986
Over one hundred Berenstain Bears books written and illustrated, beginning in 1962
Creators of coloring books published by Random House, 1987-1989
Collaborators on several Berenstain Bears Big Chapter Books, written by son Leo and illustrated by son Michael, 1994-present
Cartoons for the following publications:
Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, McCall's, and Good Housekeeping, as well as Dell Paperback Books and Hallmark Cards
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Jan: Instructor, Drawing and Painting, Philadelphia Museum School College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1944-1948
Stan and Jan Instructors, Children's Art Classes, Saturday Programs, Philadelphia Settlement School of Music and Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948
12th Drexel Citation for Outstanding Work in Children's Literature, 1982
Ambassadors of Bucks County Award, 1983
Commissioners Distinguished Service Award, presented by Mark Schweiker, 1991