Friday, January 15, 2016

The Children's Book You Thought You Knew

Time for a little quiz. Don't worry, it's easy, I promise.

What's the name of this 'family?'

Even though I haven't read one of these books in years, the answer is obvious: it's the Berenstein Bears! Like The Little Engine That Could or The Rabbi and the 29 Witches, the Bears were beloved books of my childhood.

There's only one small detail. That's not the name of the family. As I found out a few days ago, I've been wrong my whole life. That's the Berenstain Bears in the cover above, as in 'stain' not 'stein.' If you're like me, you'll rush off to Amazon to check. No problem, I'll wait here. Google will gladly correct your spelling, as well.

If you're also like me, you're world has been shaken a bit. Don't worry, this post has the answer:

Here's the thing. These books play such a huge role in the collective memories of so many people, all of whom clearly and distinctly remember "BerenstEin", that I am not the first to propose the notion that somehow, at some time in the last 10 years or so, reality has been tampered with and history has been retroactively changed. The bears really were called the "BerenstEin Bears" when we were growing up, but now reality has been altered such that the name of the bears has been changed post hoc.


I would like to make a modest proposal: We are all living in our own parallel universe.

There is at least one other universe parallel to our own. I will distinguish the two by the stEin universe and the stAin universe, depending on the surname of the creators of the famous children's book. The stEin universe was the world we resided in during the 1990s. Sometime after we all stopped reading kids books, that is when we were shifted in to the stAin universe. There may be more differences than just the surname of the Berenst_ins, in fact there almost certainly are more differences, and we just need to find them.

Somehow this theory of parallel universes seems more comforting than the possibility that we pronounced it wrong. Either way, go read the whole theory here, it's definitely a mind bending way to start your Friday.

Thanks to and for leading me to this theory. Berenstein Bears forever!


  1. My best teddy bear is Papa Bear (Beary). I LOVE these books. The only bad part about teaching 4th grade is not being able to read them to my class.

  2. Why can't you read them in class?

  3. Ahhh, I got it - their too young for 4th graders, right?

    I'd heard that some of the books actually had a Christian message, which might have made them a no-no for your classroom.

    But yeah, you're too busy reading distopian vampire lit to have time for fuzzy bears.

  4. When reading to us I think my parents always pronounced it "BerernstIN". Not adding an "a" or an "e". Seems like it is just common to mispronounce their name. Good series though. I will look to pick up a couple stories for my little niece.