Today’s Birthday Gal is Jan Berenstain! Born July 26, 1923!

Jan Berenstain Birthday GIrl

In 1962, The Big Honey Hunt was released. You may not have heard of it, and there wasn’t a plan to make a series — or even a sequel. But then it started to sell. Like crazy, we might add. The book flew off the shelves, and, thanks to the popularity of that one story, we now have The Berenstain Bears.

Everyone knows about the bears. They’re some of the most famous non-humans out there, and they’ve been around for decades. In fact, the Berenstain Bears outlived their creators, Jan and Stan Berenstain. Nonetheless, we’re here to celebrate Jan Berenstain’s birthday and thank her — and the rest of her family — for bringing these classic stories into the world.

When The Big Honey Hunt was released, Janice and Stanley Berenstain were already extremely successful illustrators. Having met in 1941 at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, the two married five years later and worked together on cartoon features in magazines like Good Housekeeping and McCall’s. But when the 1960s rolled around, the two decided to take a crack at writing for kids, and a legacy was born.

Jan and Stan originally sought the expertise of none other than Theodore Geisel — you might be more familiar with his pseudonym, Dr. Seuss — who spent two years trying to turn their original manuscript into something worthwhile. By 1962, the book was ready and now, decades later, we have Jan and Stan Berenstain to thank for more than 300 books.

The concept of The Berenstain Bears is quite simple, really: Each story focuses on a lesson learned, with Mother Bear — more often than not — saving the day. The Berenstains — the humans — have admitted that the characters are based loosely on themselves: That is, Mother Bear is kind and steady, while Papa Bear is the goofy type.

Unfortunately, both Jan and Stan Berenstain have passed away, but the Berenstain Bears series lives on through the hard work and dedication of their kids. So, in honor of Jan’s birthday, why not grab a copy — you have quite a few to choose from — of The Berenstain Bears? They’re popular for a reason, you know.