Random House Books for Young Readers announced a new 10-book Berenstain Bears picture book series, Gifts of the Spirit, that will feature faith-based content, including quotes from the Bible and lessons for young readers.
Michael Berenstain, son of creators Stan and Jan Berenstain, will write the books, with the first title, Caring, slated for publication on February 2, 2021. The next title, Sharing, will be published in August 2021, followed by Love, Family, Trust, Fairness, Honesty, Goodness, Happiness, and Politeness, which will be published through January 2024. Random House Books for Young Readers will also release the titles in board book format one or two years after the initial publication.
The announcement came from Sonali Fry, v-p and publishing director of classic brands and preschool at Random House Books for Young Readers. She called the Berenstain Bears “one of the most recognizable and beloved franchises in children’s book publishing,” according to a release, and added: “We’re so excited to be publishing these new original titles with faith-based themes that we know will resonate with families.”
Random House published the first Berenstain Bears book by Stan and Jan Berenstain in 1962. Then in 2003, HarperCollins began publishing Berenstain Bears books, but the husband and wife team remained owners of the franchise. Stan and Jan's son, who began working with his parents on the books in 1990, assumed the role of author and illustrator for all the Berenstain Bears products following their deaths 2005 and 2012, respectively.
“I am thrilled to be launching this new Berenstain Bears faith-based series with Random House, the original home of my family’s family of bears,” Michael Berenstain said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to create the Berenstain Bears’ Gifts of the Spirit series. I hope it will continue the tradition of bringing a positive, family-friendly message from the Berenstain Bears to all our readers.”
A final, original faith-based Berenstain Bears book will come from HarperCollins in summer 2021, after which Random House Children’s Books will become the only publisher issuing new faith-based content. HarperCollins will continue to publish new non-faith based content. The Berenstain family continues to own the Berenstain Bears franchise, and the books, which number over 400 and have sold more than 250 million copies.
This article has been updated with new information as well as a correction about the ownership of the franchise.