Monday, June 25, 2007

Favorite Secular Book: The Berenstain Bears and the Truth

It was difficult for me to pick my children’s favorite secular book. They enjoyed several of them, especially the ones about the Berenstain Bears, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Many of the Berenstain Bear books convey a moral. A particularly good one is The Berenstain Bears and the Truth.

Brother and Sister Bear are playing with the soccer ball in the living room (which they’re not supposed to do) when a wayward kick knocks Mama’s favorite lamp to the floor, breaking it into several pieces. When Mama finds her lamp in pieces on the floor, the children make up a wild tale about a huge, colorful bird that flew in through the window and knocked the lamp over. The more they tell the tale, the more they embellish the bird’s size and colors, getting confused about whether it was yellow with purple wings or purple with yellow wings.

Mama, of course, knows the children are not telling the truth and it makes her sad. When the children say they’re sorry the lamp got broken (without admitting they did it), Mama says:

"I’m not worried about the lamp. We can always get another lamp, or we can glue this one back together. What I’m sad about is the thought that maybe, just maybe, my cubs, whom I’ve always trusted, aren’t telling me the truth. And trust is not something you can put back together again.”

Brother and Sister then admit to breaking Mama’s lamp.

What I Like: Everything. This is the type of story any child can relate to. The language is easy to understand and the message is clear: Learning to tell the truth, even when you know you are going to get into trouble, is the right thing to do.

Also, this book has been around since 1983. More than one generation of children has learned the importance of telling the truth by reading this story.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: The publisher suggests ages 4-8. My children enjoyed this book during that age group, too, but my 12-year-old still gets out his stack of Berenstain Bear books and reads them!

Publisher Info: Random House, 1983; ISBN: 0394816404; Paperback, $3.25.

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