Bears, Oh My!

Here is a booklist all about bears. The majority of them are on the typical brown or black bear. However, I also include pandas and polar bears. Between the general bear stories and the pandas and polar bears are books about hibernation. Enjoy!


Here is the pdf version of this list.

General

Toddler

Bear & Hare Snow! by Emily Gravett

Gravett uses simple text and crisp pictures to explain what Bear and Hare do with snow. By the look of Bear, he doesn’t like snow as much as Hare until they do one snow activity that thrills him. It will be an inspiration for toddlers to go out and play in the snow! Part of the “Bear & Hare” series.

It’s the Bear! by Jez Alborough

Eddie is going on a picnic with his mom and teddy. But he is scared of the great big bear that lives in the forest, a bear his mom says doesn’t exist. His mother has to leave Eddie and his teddy while she goes to get the missing blueberry pie. Soon a loud voice declares that it smells food. Eddie, knowing the voice belongs to the bear, is so frightened that he hides in the picnic basket. As the big bear eats the picnic food, Eddie is terrified. What happens when the bear tries to look for dessert in the picnic basket? Will his mom finally believe there is a big bear in the forest? Part of the “Eddie & the Bear” series.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This book is one of my personal favorites, one I remember reading as a young girl. A Huckleberry-Finn-like boy and a friendly brown bear get whisked off into celebrating four different berries: blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry. With detailed pictures and a jaunty rhythm, this is one picture book you will joyfully reread again and again.

My favorite “spread” from Jamberry.

Let’s Count It Out, Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom and illustrated by Bruce Degen

Join Jesse Bear as he explores all the numbers surrounding him. Carlstorm uses alliterations, onomatopoeias, and rhymes to explain the item Jesse Bear counts. He counts 20 different objects. Children will enjoy finding and counting the objects themselves. Part of the “Jesse Bear” series.

Preschool/Elementary

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Juliar Sarcone-Roach

A dog tells the story of how one bear ate someone’s sandwich. Of course, we don’t know that until the end, and it is then that you start to wonder, “Did the bear really eat the sandwich or was it the dog who feels like he has to explain himself?”

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce loves to eat eggs and he even discovers new recipes for cooking eggs on the internet. Well, one day some eggs that he was hard-boiling hatch. Instead of getting a meal he becomes a mother. A delightful story about how one mean bear turns out to nurture and care for his usual food.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

A bear just wants his hat back. He asks a few forest animals if they have seen a hat.  It dawns upon the bear that a rabbit is wearing it only after someone else asked the bear to describe it. So, he demands the hat back from the rabbit. Then a squirrel comes to bear looking for the rabbit. Coincidence or not? Ask your listener and have a discussion!

A portion from I Want My Hat Back.

A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Bear has never been to the library, and he doesn’t see why he should go. He owns all the books he could ever want, including one about pickles! But he promised his friend Mouse that he would go. Bear is super grumpy at the library, doesn’t understand all the excessiveness of the library–so many books, and talks way too loudly. It isn’t until he hears a story about a Very Brave Bear who finds a pickle that he finally relaxes and falls in love with the library and borrowing books.

Hibernation

Toddler

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Old Bear is hibernating. As he sleeps, he dreams of the four seasons. Upon awaking he sees the beautiful spring day and it takes him a while to realize he was awake. A perfect introduction to what hibernation is for little ones.

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman

Bear sleeps in his cave as winter is in full bloom. As a snowstorm rages, his friends, one by one, go into his cave and bring delicious food. They make a hullabaloo, but only after a black pepper speck reaches Bear and he sneezes himself awake! Bear is terribly sad that his friends had such a good time without him. However, his friends make more food and tea and they enjoy each other until morning when Bear can’t go back to sleep and his friends do instead!

Preschool

Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming

Bear notices it is smelling like winter. He decides to tell Snail before he goes to hibernate. Snail notices that there was frost on the ground so before he can hide for the winter he has to tell Skunk. And so it goes on and on as one animal notices a part of winter coming and rushes to tell another animal. At the end, ladybug is determined to tell Bear another thing about winter, but Bear is already asleep, cozy in his cave!

The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben

In this gentle bedtime book, a boy and his mama read a story about a black bear who hibernates. The book explains what happens while the black bear is asleep. But when it comes time for the bear to wake up into spring, the little boy has fallen asleep.

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Created with collage art, this book tells the story of a cub who wants to experience his first spring. But, it isn’t time to experience spring–he has to go through winter first. The cub doesn’t want to wait. He rushes outdoors. After discovering snow, which he calls spring, he bundles some up and takes it back to his den to share it with his family. After the long winter sleep, he is so upset that spring went missing (the snow melted of course). His mama joins him on his flight to find spring again, only to really discover what spring is.

Preschool/Elementary

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi

Beatrice the Bunny and Bear the Bear are besties. The problem is during the winter Bear hibernates and can’t play with Beatrice. Beatrice decides to join in this hibernation business by spending the winter with him. However, she can’t hibernate; she gets so bored. Instead, she makes “The Great Scrapbook of Winter Delights and Adventures” for Bear.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Bear has a story to tell. He asks multiple friends if they would like to hear it. They all are too busy getting ready for winter. Even though Bear helps them prepare, no one has time to listen to his story. Soon, snow falls and it’s time for him to go to sleep. After waking up from his winter nap and his friends all return, Bear has completely forgotten his story! His friends try to help by supplying suggestions. Then, bear begins as the book ends, “It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.”

Don’t Wake Up the Bear! by Marjorie Dennis Murray and illustrated by Patricia Wittman

A story where other hibernating and warmth-seeking animals decide to quietly snuggle up with a sound asleep bear. Each animal, as it comes into the den to seek shelter, is meet with a whispered “Don’t wake up the bear!” What happens when someone does wake bear? Will he be hungry? Have your child try to guess what or who he will eat!

Panda Bears

Toddler/Preschool

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Adam Rex

Delightfully illustrated in bold, rich colors with plenty to stare at, Chu’s Day is all about a boy panda who has a massive sneezing problem. His sneezes are so powerful that they can create great havoc and destruction. So everyone is on edge when Chu encounters book dust or pepper in the air. But no one was counting on him sneezing at the circus! Have your child try to find Tiny, the snail. He is in all the pictures. Part of the “Chu” series.

Preschool/Elementary

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep by Barry Satlzburg

Chengdu has a problem: he cannot fall asleep. Up in a high tree, this panda isn’t sound asleep like everything around him. No amount of moving or wiggling can drift him off to sleep. It isn’t until he finds a particularly cozy spot (who this spot is makes this story very realistic) that he is able to slumber.

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

Stillwater is a big panda who moves into a neighborhood. Each child visits him one by one and learns more about the world. He ends up telling zen stories to three siblings. Although the philosophical underpinning behind the stories will probably go over most kids’ heads, the gentle book is beautifully illustrated. Most kids will enjoy the fantasy of having a neighborhood panda to talk candidly to.

Polar Bears

Toddlers

Cub’s Big World by Sarah L. Thomson and illustrated by Joe Cepeda

It’s cub’s first adventures outside of the den. She enjoys the outside very much until she cannot see her mama polar bear. The cub looks for a black nose, yet the black things she sees are all the other arctic animals, other than her mama. What is cub to do? Before cub panics in fear, mama appears. Cub is just like a toddler that wants to test her independence, but doesn’t want her caregiver out of sight.

Bear Can Dance! by Suzanne Bloom

Bear wishes he could fly so that he could experience the sensations of swooping, gliding and having the wind sweep across his fur. After his friend, Fox tries to help him fly without wings, Bear still can’t fly, just as Goose predicts. But, he can dance which includes swooping, gliding, and wind blowing across his fur. A great book to show that you can take disappointment and make it into something else. It is also a wonderful book to have your child act out the motions!

Preschool

Polar Opposites by Erik Brooks

Alex is a polar bear and his bud Zina the penguin are “polar opposites” in every category imaginable: color, texture, and noisiness to name a few. But they always end up meeting in the middle. Quite literally. As the picture book progresses in showing how the two are so different, Alex and Zina are getting ready to go on a trip. The two end up meeting in Galapagos Islands. A great book to discuss opposites.

I Love You With All of My Heart by Noris Kern

Polo the polar bear is told by his friend that he better be careful because Polo’s mother loves him with all of her heart. Polo does not understand what that means. He tries to figure it out by asking all of his animal friends. When they answer, Polo knows his mother doesn’t love him those ways. He eventually finds her and asks her. She proceeds to show him that she does indeed love him with all her heart.

Virgil and Owen by Paulette Bogan

A penguin named Virgil finds a polar bear! He decides he wants to keep him all to himself. When this polar bear, Owen, begins to make friends with other animals, Virgil gets very possessive. Eventually Owen faces up to Virgil and the two build a more normal relationship. Perfect for toddlers who are just testing out the friendship pool and a great story to open up to older kids about how to not make friends.

Preschool/Elementary

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder

Sophie has to do a report on the polar bear. She doesn’t find them very interesting until a real polar bear named Olafur takes her to the Arctic. During the adventure, she learns so much more about polar bears than that they are big, they eat and are supposedly all mean. The art is fascinating to look at. The Bear Report is a far cry from just a picture book report about the Arctic and polar bears; it just makes learning all these tidbits effortless.

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