Traditional Thursdays: The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan and Jan Berenstain

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For this week’s Traditional Thursday, I thought it might be fun to revisit a childhood favorite: The Berenstain Bears. This series was a staple in my house growing up, and I immediately grew nostalgic upon viewing this book on the shelves of the bookstore.

 

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The Berenstain Bears Go to School chronicles Sister Bear’s entrance into Kindergarten, and the start of Brother Bear’s school year. At first, Sister Bear is quite apprehensive about leaving home and venturing into the classroom. However, Mother Bear takes her to the schoolhouse, where she visits her soon-to-be teacher, Miss Honeybear, and her fear begins to dissipate. She comes to recognize that the school classroom is just her size, and is much less scary than she thought. Come morning, however, she begins to worry again once the big, yellow school bus pulls up. There, she makes friends with a few equally-nervous kindergarteners. At school, she has a marvelous time painting pictures, building cities out of blocks, and looking at books. Once she gets home, she can’t wait to share all she has learned with her parents. Both Sister Bear and Brother Bear come to realize that school can be comfortable and fun.

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The book’s illustrations echo the traditional Berenstain Bear style: vibrant illustrations, sharp images, and the classic bear caricature. The text is not especially well incorporated into the images, but is clear and easy to read. The book does a good job of varying full spread and smaller images, and the bears’ detailed facial expressions work to enhance the storyline.

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Although the book’s content is not particularly profound or innovative, I think it would be a good book to use with young kids, especially those who are apprehensive about leaving home or attending school for the first time. The story feels comfortable and wholesome, and could jumpstart in children a love for the Berenstain Bears series. The Berenstain Bears Go to School teaches young children that although school may seem scary at first, it is made just for them and can be a very fun and non-intimidating environment. This book would be helpful to use to help children learn about change, transitions, and how to cope with feeling nervous about new situations.

 

Posted by: Natalie Gustin

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