I have read many of the naysayers and the positive comments about the new Living Lights series by the Berenstains. I have researched their series and grew up on their early books and treasured every positive message. I turned to these books for positive character advice and values when I couldn't ask my parents. I wish that the Berenstains had begun the Living Lights series for Christians when I was young. I researched the beginning of what made the family decide to write about Christian values. Stan DID discuss this concept with Mike and Jan before he died and began the groundwork for this series.
Jan wrote these Living Lights books while Mike illustrated them, so they are INDEED reflective of the entire family. If you are offended by the Living Lights series, please look at all the books that have recently come out for publication by the Berenstain Family. Right now, Mike has 6 Living Lights books with titles set for pre-sale and release in 2012 on Amazon published by Zonderkidz. He has 9 books set for pre-sale and release in 2012 published by Harper that are called "First Time Books" or "I Can Read."
Jan may have been involved in writing some of these books that haven't been published yet since she recently died, but it doesn't matter who wrote them. The point is the family HAS tread on their ministry lightly and decided around 2005 not to hide their light of Jesus or their faith under a bushel anymore. They are NOT trying to force their christianity on anyone. They are offering Christians some decent Christian children's stories for Christians to choose to buy for their children.
Almost every single Living Lights book they have written has an almost parallel "First Time Book." So parents can choose which version they want. For instance, there is the Living Lights "Easter Story" (2012) and the First Time Books "Real Easter Egg" (2002). There is "Too Much T.V." published in 1984 and "Discover God's Creation" published in 2010 that are basically the same story but instead of calling the outdoors "Mother Nature," they call it "God's Creation." Same message, turn off the t.v. and go outside. The "Jobs Around Town" (2011) even states in the inside of the book that it is a reprint of "On the Job" from 1987. The only difference is instead of just saying "talents" they say "God-given talents."
Stan and Jan Berenstain wrote a book called "The Bear Essentials: Everything Today's Hard-Pressed Parent Needs to Know About Bringing Up Happy, Healthy Kids" that was published before Stan died in 2005. The introduction to the book says their reason for writing a guide to parents is because they received thousands of emails and letters a year from parents asking them to give them "further advice on issues we have addressed in our First Time Books Series" pg. 8.
I hoarded these books as a child because my parents were neglectful and didn't have a clue about the challenges that go on in public schools. In many ways, I feel that the Berenstains were my parents. You might want to be careful about assuming you know what your child needs. Children don't tell their parents anything. Give them choice and options. Anyone that can speak about a children's book that mentions God or Jesus with such hatred on a review of a book makes me wonder what kind of "real character" their children are getting from their parents or any book the parents bring into their house. I have been a school teacher for 11 years and know that most of the parents of my students had absolutely no idea what their children were really involved in. If they don't talk to you, they will find out their information from somewhere.
Regardless, Mike is giving you choice, more than anyone else that would try to cram their views down our throats. I had to wait 30 years for the Berenstains to have the courage to speak up, yet they did when very few people do. As a christian, I should have a right as a citizen and human being to have books IN PRINT that I can choose for my child that are christian and do not talk about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and make believe stuff that they will one day realize you LIED to them, so how can they believe anything?? If you do not like Christian books, don't buy them. The Berenstains have written and published over 300 books and they are ALL in print and available on Amazon. No one cares when christians get offended by the lack of tolerance for our religion. But it's time some parents grow up and stop acting betrayed by the Berenstains.
In the meantime, thank you Mike for keeping the candle lit that your parents started 50 years ago.