The Berenstain Bears No Girls Allowed by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Analyzing Content for Cultural Competency
The Berenstain Bears No Girls Allowed is a children’s novel written by Stan and Jan Berenstain on March 1986, which is aimed at educating children about friendship and the importance of treating one another fairly (Berenstain ; Berenstain, 1986). This book can be helpful for children between the age of 3 and 7 years who are growing up and have started to socialize with other children. The cultural competence of this book is appropriate for this age group since it is important to train children on the importance of treating everyone fairly regardless of their gender at an early stage and help in building strong moral principles as the children grow (Berenstain ; Berenstain, 1986).
The book is about a Sister Bear who is negatively treated by her brother’s friends simply because she is a female bear. However, as time goes on, the Sister Bear suddenly becomes better at the games they played which make the boys jealous (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). The boys decide to segregate themselves from the girl by building a clubhouse with a sign at the door, which reads “Bear Country Boys Club: NO GIRLS ALLOWED.” This negatively affects the girl who runs to her parents to explain the ordeal (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). Later on, her mother helps her in addressing the situation where later the boys welcome the girls to their club house and also change the sign on the door to “Bear Country Boys Club: GIRLS WELCOME!”
Check the Illustrations
The title of the book is very plain and clear about the theme of the story (Teaching for Change, 2018). The story is about a male, a female bear, and their different perspectives when it comes to playing. This aims at showing the different perspectives and expectations between different gender roles, which may lead to unfair treatment to one gender (Teaching for Change, 2018). This is meant to portray that for one to be successful in games they must be boys. This book has played a major role in teaching children on the importance of treating each other fairly and avoiding discrimination as it has a negative impact to the certain group of individuals (Teaching for Change, 2018). The book illustrates the mama bear always performing household duties where else the Papa bear is always performing other duties apart from house chores (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
Check the Story Line
The story line is all about how the male gender is expected to perform highly in certain activities while the female gender is expected to perform poorly in the activities (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). Boys are expected to be successful in gaming activities where else women are expected to lose in the gaming activities. This is seen where the boys wine at how the girl was slowing them down and are not happy when later on the girl outshines them in the sporting activities. The problems in the book are addressed after the parents intervene and provide the same resources the boys have to the girls (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
The book portrays family relationships as important as the girl expects her brother to accommodate her during the sporting activities with his friends, which the boy sees as a bother (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). The brother does not encourage the sister even after his friends whine on how she is slowing them down. The boys later segregate themselves and leave the girl hanging all alone. The parents play an important role during this time when they help the sister to overcome the hurt by helping her build a club house which later on they celebrate together with the boys (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
The parents ensure that social justice is served by building the girls a clubhouse just as the boys, which helped in ensuring that the girls have the same opportunities as the boys. This brought peace as later seen when the girls invited the boys to their new clubhouse to celebrate (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). This action positively impacted the boys who went and changed their sign on their cub house to allow girls to access the place. The boys were selfish at the start of the story by looking down upon the girls during the sporting time. After the girls outshine them, the boys segregate themselves to their new clubhouse where the girls are not allowed (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
Effects on a Child’s Self-Image
The behavior of the boys negatively impacted the girls as the girls are perceived not to participate in certain activities and even if they do and are successful, they do not get the credit they deserve (Berenstain ; Berenstain, 1986). This is meant to discourage the girls in pursuing what they like and are interested in. However, after the intervention of the parents, the girls are encouraged to pursue their interests regardless of what the male gender perceive of them (Berenstain ; Berenstain, 1986).
Author/ Illustrator’s Background or Perspective
This book was written in 1986 when there was a lot of stereotyping based on gender roles. During this time, women were expected to perform house duties, which include cooking and washing while the tough jobs were set aside for the men (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). In this book, the Mama Bear is always shown performing house chores where else, the Papa Bear is shown performing manly duties which include chopping fire wood. This book was aimed at addressing the expectations of women in performing certain roles in the society as this could negatively affect the female gender in different perspectives (Derman-Sparks, LeeKeenan, & Nimmo, 2015).
The male bears view the female bear as a nuisance during their sporting activities for the reason that the bear is female (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). When the sister becomes older and becomes better than the boys, the male bears claim that the female bear is showing off and is a bad winner due to her over celebrating behavior. The male bears segregate themselves and build a new clubhouse with a sign “Bear Country Boys Club: NO GIRLS ALLOWED.” This is a clear indication of the gender stereotyping in those times where the female gender was looked down upon (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
Cultural Competence Level of book
This book falls on the Cultural incapacity level on the Cultural Competence Continuum (Derman-Sparks, LeeKeenan, & Nimmo, 2015). This is where the system does not purposely seek to have a negative effect on a culture or a certain group but rather lacks the right interventions and strategies to help the minor and the inferior group (Harris, 2014). This is seen in the book where sporting activities have been set aside for the male gender and women are expected to perform poorly in these activities. When the Sister Bear tags along her brother to the gaming activities, the other friends look down upon her, which discourages her so much (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
However as time goes on, the Sister Bear outshines the boys which is not well taken by the boys who argue that the girl is over celebrating her victory. The boys are also not satisfied with this and proceed to separate themselves from the girls (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986). Cultural incapacity involves not having the right resources to support the female gender in a society due to how the society views the female gender (Derman-Sparks, LeeKeenan, & Nimmo, 2015). It was not expected for the girls to participate in the gaming activities as witnessed in the book. There are also negative perceptions about the female gender, which have not been addressed as is also seen when the boys separate themselves, and the girl does not have a team to play with (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1986).
If the right measures are implemented, the girls would have their own team to play with which would not negatively impact the girl after being rejected by the boys (Harris, 2014). This has also been brought about by failure to understand the negative effects faced by the female gender after being rejected from performing certain roles and responsibilities, which is based on the cultural background of the society (Harris, 2014). These negative perceptions can be avoided by having the right measures and support to the inferior gender and providing more opportunities to the female gender, which will have a positive impact in the society (Harris, 2014).
Berenstain, S., & Berenstain, J. (1986). The Berenstain Bears, no girls allowed. New York: Random House.
Derman-Sparks, L., LeeKeenan, D., & Nimmo, J. (2015). Leading anti-bias early childhood programs: A guide for change. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
Harris, M. S. (2014). Racial disproportionality in child welfare. New York: Columbia University Press.
Teaching For Change. (2018). Building Social Justice Starting In The Classroom. Guide For Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books. Retrieved from http://www.teachingforchange.org/selecting-anti-bias-books