the green fields beyond


Location: Charles City, Virginia, United States

Monday, March 05, 2007


After nearly four years of Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Qoheleth, and Paul, this week I'll be reading and commenting on the heaviest piece of writing i've been assigned yet...

The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies. All 29 pages of it.

For one of my Counseling and Psychology classes, with Dave Powlison (who i'd love to be when i grow up), we're reading this Berenstain book to see one way that psychology works at the popular, rather than academic, level. Like Dr. Phil or other popular psychologists, the Berenstains want to educate people and improve life. All well and good. But what assumptions do they make about human nature, about what changes people and what the goal of child-rearing is? Can they actually deliver what they promise?
It may seem over-picky to ask these questions of a kids' book. But kids' books can provide an amazing window into how a society's priorities and how it tries to shape its children, and we ought to take them seriously. I'm looking forward to this, and I'll try to post my response paper later this week.



You know, they made several of the books into a half-hour cartoon show. I'm not saying you should "see the movie" instead of "reading the book" but it's always nice to keep your options open!

10:30 AM  

This is my favorite book in the store because all I have to do is type "bear" in the search field...and there it is! Our only book with "bear" in the title! How very specially special is that?

8:15 PM  

I'm interested in what you think about this book. . . what a great assignment!

On a different note---I don't think these books are popular anymore. My students NEVER read them and they were never a big sell when I worked in the children's department at Barnes and Noble.

9:17 PM  

I think you're right about the declining popularity of these books. The professor has been giving this assignment for a few years, but he has said that he may need to find a new book or series soon. (any suggestions?)
But as i browse the children's shelves at the library or B&N (yes, i do that) i find that the newer books are often nearly as preachy as the Berenstains were...though there are lovely exceptions!

9:50 AM  

I definitely agree that many children's books are preachy and have sort-of pedantic overtones or motives, but I think they might surprise you.

A huge topic in literary circles right now ---that even edged its way onto "The View" talkshow--- is what's being written about in adolescent books (that are then winning the Newberry Medal). Very very adult themes. . . .

9:59 AM  

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