PUBLICATION DATE: MAY, 2012
he Berenstain Bears Help the Homeless
he Berenstain Bears Help the Homelessby Jan and Mike Berenstain is a Level 1 book in the “I Can Read!” Living Lights collection. Widow McBear asks the Good Deed Scouts to turn an old, spooky house into a shelter for the homeless. Brother, Sister, Fred and Lizzy go up Spook Hill to the scary house that night and imagine what sorts of monsters may be lurking inside. They end up finding Old Tom, the homeless bear they sometimes see around town. Old Tom and the cubs work hard to fix up the house, and by the end, it is fit for people to live in. The cubs rejoice at being able to take care of the homeless.
I am a fan of the Berenstain Bears. Always have been. Perhaps it’s the mom in me, but this book rubbed me the wrong way. Widow McBear sent the cubs out, unsupervised, at night to do manual labor on an abandoned, rickety house. When the young ones are fixing up the house, the cubs are shown in the daytime using a handsaw and painting the house while standing on a ladder. I’m not completely sure how old the cubs are supposed to be in this book, but I would not be too happy if I saw a seven-year-old using a handsaw or standing on the top rung of a ladder without parental supervision.
Mama and Papa Bear are not in this book. Not mentioned, not pictured. If a widow asked my children to go fix up a broken down house in the middle of the night, you’d better believe I’d have something to say about it. No parental consultation or involvement does not send a good message to children. While I appreciate that this is a book to practice reading, the stories still should promote healthy and safe practices for young readers to mimic. Also, Fred mentioned two ideas from the Bible that had no references. I have a hard time loving it when books say “the Bible says…” but give no proof of it being so. Cite your sources! No matter how young the audience is, that’s always a must.