Stanley Melvin Berenstain and Janice Marian Grant were both born in 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They grew up in families struggling through the Great Depression and they met in 1941 while attending the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts. Stan was drafted into the Army during World War II, serving from 1943 to 1946. Blind in one eye, he was given limited service and spent most of the war as a medical illustrator in an army hospital.  Jan did war work as a draftsman for the Army Corps of Engineers and as an aircraft riveter building the navy's PBY flying boat.  Stan began drawing cartoons while in the army and publishing them in magazines. Stan and Jan were married right after the war and began careers as a magazine cartoonist team. They published in The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers Magazine, McCall's, Good Housekeeping and many more, focusing on humor about children and families. In addition, they published many book collections of their cartoons. The start of their own family came with the birth of son, Leo in 1948 then Mike in 1951.  Since both sons were big Dr. Seuss fans, Stan and Jan decided to try their hands at creating a children's book themselves. This became The Big Honey Hunt featuring Papa, Mama and Small Bear published by Random House in 1962.  Dr. Seuss, himself, -- aka Ted Seuss Geisel -- was the editor and publisher. Over two hundred Berenstain Bears books followed over the next forty-three years until Stan's death in 2005. Small Bear became Brother Bear with the birth of Sister in 1974. Little sister, Honey, arrived in 2000. The names, "Papa," "Mama," "Brother" and "Sister" were chosen for ease of reading and to emphasize their archetypical roles in the family.  Total sales of the series have topped 250 million copies. Until the late '80s, Stan and Jan continued their work as magazine cartoonists along with their children's book creation. Son Mike had become a children's book illustrator and author in the 1970s and joined with his parents in the 1980s on magazine work, moving to illustrating and co-writing Berenstain Bears books by 1992.   The Berenstain Bears became popular beyond the world of children's books. The first animated TV show, an NBC Christmas special, was produced in 1979. Four other NBC seasonal specials followed in the early 80s. Two seasons of Saturday morning animated cartoons followed on CBS in 1985/1986 and a season of PBS daily shows was created in 2002. The characters have been featured as dolls, toys, games, puzzles, software, clothing and many other products. During the '80s and '90s, there were Berenstain Bear Country attractions in a number of amusement parks. More recently, children's museums across the country have displayed Berenstain Bears exhibits including the permanent Berenstain Bear exhibit at the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York. There have been four Berenstain Bears stage productions, including the highly successful musical The Berenstain Bears Live in Family Matters.   Shortly after publication of the series moved from Random House to HarperCollins in 2004, Mike suggested to Stan and Jan that they create a new sub-line of Berenstain Bears books on spiritual themes while continuing to publish their traditional storybooks.  They co-created the first four titles in the ongoing Living Lights series released by the HarperCollins publishing group, Zondervan, in 2008.  After a long illness, Stan passed away in November 2005, at the age of eighty-two.  Jan died in February 2012, at the age of eighty-eight.  Mike continues to write and illustrate Berenstain Bears books on all sorts of subjects--everything from going for a ride on the train to the golden rule. He lives and works in the rolling countryside of Eastern Pennsylvania--a place that looks very much like Berenstain Bear Country. Privacy Policy Terms of Service © 2019, The Berenstain Bears  |  |