Children’s author and illustrator Stan Berenstain died Saturday in Pennsylvania. Berenstain and his wife Jan created, authored and illustrated the wildly popular kids’ series, The Berenstain Bears. With over 200 books in the series, the Berenstains have helped many young children learn to love to read, while slipping in a few life lessons in at the same time. Although many books now show kids and families much more realistically, at the time, the Berenstain Bears books were unique in that they showed kids with messy rooms, rude manners and families dealing with disagreements and other everyday problems. I definitely remember reading many a Berenstain Bears book back in the day. One thing that I didn’t realize about the Berenstain Bears books is that they were first edited and helped into publication by the one and only Dr. Seuss. In addition to the books, the Berenstain Bears also starred in their own animated television series and holiday specials.
Since the holiday season is here and since the Berenstains’ creations have been an important and fun part of many children’s literary beginnings, I wanted to take this chance to spotlight the wonderful organization called First Book. First Book provides families, childcare centers and communities with new books, tutoring and literacy assistance. They have also organized the Book Relief program, which provides the opportunity to help those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by donating books to the region’s schools and libraries. If you’re looking for a way to give back and want to help kids develop a lifelong love of reading, please consider looking into these two great charities.