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The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers: 02/01/08
Books are a wonderful tool for teaching children about the world and to give them the tools to survive. That doesn't mean that books need to hit children over the head with these important life lessons.
The Berenstain Bears series of books runs the gamut from entertaining stories of a brother and sister growing up to blatantly obvious and forced lessons. The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers is in the unfortunate obvious and forced end of the spectrum. It's frankly an awful book. It's as bad as those old "After School Specials."
The story focuses around the importance of being wary of strangers and the tricks some adults play to lure children into dangerous situations. The book paints all adult strangers in the same brush, making Sister Bear see monsters in all the adults she meets. The book never once mentions that children are far more likely to be abused by family and friends than complete strangers. This book does a huge disservice to children unfortunate enough to read this story.
My kids LOVE the Berenstain Bears. 'The Trouble With Strangers' is one in our collection, too. I don't know what it is, but kids don't mind learning lessons from the bears!"
When the book first came out I was still a kid and my brother was just a little younger than Sister Bear is suppose to be in these books. Although my brother and I do like some of the books, The Trouble With Strangers was among the ones we didn't like. Now as an adult I still find this particular book in the series appauling. The books from the late 1960s and mid 1970s were more centered around telling good stories and less around driving home a black and white lesson."
I've never understood the hysteria over child abductions--yes they're scary but they're so rare. No one ever mentions that a child is far more vulnerable and at risk in their own home and I'm so glad you did!"
Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. My son now is just about to start elementary school and I'm trying to teach him important life skills for staying safe when he's not at home. I want him to be independent but I want him to be safe. Part of being safe is knowing when and whom to ask for help. He won't do that if he's taught to be scared of all strangers. It's such a balancing act and these well meaning books so often seem to be backwards progress in those life lessons! "
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