1. The Berenstain Bears and the Double Dare
Moral: You can get away with anything as long as you (or your parents) know the right people.
This epic saga of giving in to peer pressure sees Brother Bear falling in with Bear Country's gang of juvenile delinquents on a mission to steal watermelons from Farmer Ben, a friend of the Bear family. (Is "Farmer" his actual name, or just his profession? It's hard to tell sometimes in Bear Country, where "Brother" is apparently an acceptable first name.) After succumbing to the dreaded "dee-double-dare" from his peers, Brother gets caught red-handed mid-theft by Farmer Ben himself. The other kids take off, but Farmer Ben just wants to know what a nice kid like Brother Bear is doing running around with such a bad crowd. Not only does Farmer Ben call the parents of the other kids, but not the parents of actual watermelon thief Brother, he serves Brother a big juicy slice of the pilfered fruit. Brother goes home with a full stomach and a strong sense of superiority as angry parents of the other kids show up to haul their spawn home and give them an earful. (The other moral of this story is that Brother Bear is kind of a dick.)
2. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food
Moral: Once you eat a single Hershey's kiss your health is as good as ruined. There is no going back.
Mama Bear notices that her cubs are turning into little Fatty McPudgebutts, and responds by forbidding them all contact with anything sweet, which is portrayed as the proper choice. All sweets and snacks in the house are locked in the freezer and replaced with carrot sticks, and this decision is supported by the kids' pediatrician, because as we all know, every time a kid eats a cookie, she immediately catches Mega-Diabetes. After the family gets their exercise on and ends up winning a race trophy, Papa proposes opening up the freezer for a special treat, at which point he is immediately shut down by his cubs, who have clearly drunk Mama's sugar-free Kool-Aid. "HAVE A CARROT STICK," they shout, their eyes glassy with the fervency of their belief in the One True Way.
3. The Berenstain Bears And The Bad Habit
Moral: It's pretty easy to get your parents to bribe you for good behavior.
Mama and Papa try strategy after strategy to get Sister to stop biting her nails, and only succeed in the end by paying her for every day she goes without nibbling. Brother takes notice and starts to speculate on what bad habit he should develop so he can tap into this obvious gold mine. Actually, I think Brother is on to something here. If my kids were old enough to be bribe-able, I would totally pay them to stop trying to bite each other's faces off.
Moral: If you don't have a special talent, you can kiss your friends good by as soon as someone cooler comes along.
Sister Bear's playground rep is shaken by the arrival of the cool new kid in town, Queenie McBear. Queenie sneers at Sister's pink hairbow, mocks her little-girl tricycle, and asks who came up with the name "Sister". (Queenie is a jerk, but I can't really argue with her on that last point.) Everyone but Sister's best friend Lizzie ditches her to hang out with Queenie. Her friends only come flocking back to her at the neighborhood double-dutch tournament, because Sister is a double-dutch rock star. She cements her spot as playground VIP by jump-roping circles around the hapless Queenie.
5. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation
Moral: Eating random things you find in the woods will at worst make you need a glass of water to wash away the taste, not a call to Poison Control.
Under the enthusiastic guidance of Papa Bear, the Bear family tries to make a vacation of roughing it in a rustic country cabin. They endure swarms of mosquitoes, leaky roofs and flooding, and worst of all, Papa's attempts for the family to "live off the land". The family eats berries they find in the forest, and Papa even makes a wilderness stew of bark, leaves, and what appear to be mushrooms that he collects in the forest. Somehow, the story ends with a meal of canned beans and an early departure for home instead of a series of increasingly terrifying hallucinations and/or a trip to the emergency room.
7. Every Berenstain Bears Book Ever
Moral: Dads are the actual worst. Papa Bear is the epitome of Sitcom Dad Syndrome. His solutions to family problems are silly at best and actively harmful at worst. He suggests that he might be able to solve Sister's nail-biting problem by screaming at her, is literally unable to figure out what he can drink when Mama takes away soda, and basically tells Sister is she's not careful about who she talks to, she's going to get murdered by a stranger, making her terrified to go outside. The easy-reader book Ready, Get Set, Go further establishes Papa's reputation as a bumbling buffoon, where he loses races, climbing competitions, and long-jumps to his tiny children. The only thing Papa is best at? Sleeping. Oh, and there's the fact that he could have poisoned his family by feeding them unidentified berries and fungus from the middle of the woods. As a semi-professional misandrist feminist, I am super-embarrassed on behalf of dads everywhere for the portrayal of fatherhood provided by Papa Q. Bear.