Twenty-one on none

Confession: I still get a kick out of “Bears on Wheels” by the Berenstains.

It’s one of the first books my parents read to me when I was little.

I also introduced it to Charlie and Thomas when they were little, and it stuck with us. Even today, when I’m with my ‘big guys’ and we see people on bicycles, it always occurs to one of us to blurt out how many people on how many wheels there are (example: “Three on six”).

Recently, it occurred to me that I’d like to share this classic with my preschooler, Jacob. I ordered it from ThriftBooks (always my first resort for buying books online), and it was shipped to my office.

I waited anxiously for the end of the workday, anticipating my son’s giggles at the pictures and narrative of bears falling onto and off of various wheeled things.

Then I started second-guessing my anticipation. Was I being too optimistic? What if Jacob didn’t like the book the way I did? Would I be upset? Why did I want Jacob to have the same kind of experiences his older brothers had? Was this about him or about me and my nostalgia?

Sheesh. It’s just a book.

Anyway, much to my delight, Jacob found “Bears on Wheels” very entertaining and soon began requesting it at bedtime.

A couple of weeks ago, Jacob and I were on a walk and saw two bicyclists pedaling by.

I said, “Two on four.”

He said, “No, it’s not two on four.” (He disagrees with things he doesn’t understand. Don’t we all?)

I explained: “It’s two guys on four wheels.”

“Oh, it is?”

Then we went into the math. “It’s two wheels on one bike and two wheels on the other bike. Two plus two is …”

“Four!” He got it.

Thanks to Stan and Jan Berenstain, I can reinforce simple addition with my son (and eventually  multiplication by two)  every time someone goes by on a bicycle.

If you have never read the book, you probably won’t understand the title of this post, “Twenty-one on none.” But I won’t give it away. It’s best that you discover it on the printed page, as my sons and I have.

What literary gems from your childhood have you shared with your kids?

It's Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs. The theme is "Books."


5 Responses

  1. My kids love this book. My son especially likes all of the different vehicles.

  2. @Mocha Dad: How about that 5-wheel hot rod? I want one.

    I like the interview you posted at your blog.

  3. We had a big discussion in our house about this book just this past weekend. My 4 year old has heard it enough times that she loves to “read” it to us now. And we are all about the “ninja bears.”

    Other faves? All Dr. Seuss, of course. I also have a few books that I saved from my own childhood that I like sharing with my kids- Mr. Shaw’s Shipshape Shoe Shop is one of them.

  4. P.S. I hadn’t heard of Thrift Books before so I went to check them out and have fallen head over heels in love! Placed an order and am hoping it’s as awesome as it seems. I gave them this URL for the “how did you hear about us” thing…

    • I’m glad you’re trying it out. I’ve been pleased with every order. ThriftBooks seems like the online equivalent of the $2 second-run movie theater. If you don’t need a ‘new release,’ you can get a great deal.

      You’ll save a little money on the shipping if you make sure the whole order comes from the same city. Not enough of a savings, IMO, but still a great price overall for books that read just the same as brand-new ones.

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