About Stan and Jan

Check out the summary below, but if you want more, please read their autobiography Down A Sunny Dirt Road (2002)!

     Stan and Jan were born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. After one year of post-secondary studies at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where they met in 1941, Stan was drafted for military service. Due to a medical problem that left him nearly blind in one eye, he never saw the front lines, but served four years in various units of the U.S. Army. As soon as he was discharged, he and Jan married (April 13, 1946). After their children Leo and Michael were born in 1948 and 1951, respectively, Stan and Jan found their niche producing cartoon based on the humors of everyday life as a family. In their early career, the duo produced cartoons for popular magazines such as McCall’s and Collier’s.

 

     The path to their illustrious career in children’s literature began when their oldest son asked for a popular Dr. Seuss book for Christmas. As a result of reading this funny rhymed-filled book to their son, they fell in love with Seuss’s genre and started toying with the idea of writing a children’s book of their own. After many drafts and revisions, their first book, The Big Honey Hunt, was published in the spring of 1962. It was not until their next book, The Bike Lesson, was published two years later that the Bears were officially dubbed “The Berenstain Bears” and Stanley and Janice’s names were shortened to the “Stan and Jan” version familiar with readers today. Interestingly enough, both of the naming decisions were that of their editor, the then-head of Beginner Books at Random House, Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. They (with Michael as a co-author later) would eventually place 22 Bears books  on the list of best-selling children's books of all time compiled by Publisher Weekly for paperback titles having sold more than one million copies.