With over 500 unique titles in the Berenstain Bears book series (not to mention various reprints, editions, bind-ups, reissues, etc.), identifying the rarest and most unusual books in the collection is not an easy task. But for a serious fan or collector, it’s necessary to know what to look for!
Let’s start counting them down!
Christmas Tree Coloring Books
(1984 & 1986)
There are a plethora of Christmas-themed Berenstain Bears books, including several other Christmas coloring and activity books. These are the only ones, however, correlate with the story in “The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree” (Random House, 1980)
Ok, before we start the ACTUAL top 20, I want to give a shout-out to two super beautiful coloring books from the mid-80s. These “Christmas Tree” coloring books aren’t just a series of random ready-to-color pages — they actually tell the story of “The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree” – and look at these beautiful covers! Two favorite items in my collection that are also now very rare. If you come across either of these, even if they’re missing pages, definitely pick them up. You might never see them again!
20. The Berenstain Bears and the Neighborly Skunk
Published by Random House as part of their Mini-Storybook Series. Other books in this series include The Berenstain Bears and the Big Election and The Berenstain Bears Shoot the Rapids
Kicking off the list is one of the most well-known “rare” books. I put the word rare in quotes because this book is rare in the wild (if you find it at a yard sale or Goodwill — WOW!) but they are always copies available for purchase online – if you’re willing to spend a little cash. Neighborly Skunk is one of the first roadblocks when you start your collection because it was part of the Random House Mini-Storybook collection from the mid-80s. Meaning there were millions of these books published – except this one, for some reason! Neighborly Skunk was the last book in this series to be published and it quickly went out of print. When I was a kid, this was the first Berenstain Bears book I couldn’t get my hands on.
19. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Credit Union (2014)
What a bizarre little book! Visit the Credit Union is one of the newest Berenstain Bears books but to acquire a copy, you literally have to become a member of a credit union (or make a significant donation to a credit union, as I did to acquire my copy).
How oddly specific is this book and its title…. Along the life lessons shared in “Get in a Fight,” “Messy Room,” and “Learn About Strangers,” the Berenstain Bears have now told the story of VISITING A CREDIT UNION.
PS. The Berenstain Bears Financial Literacy Program is still around. If kids open an account at an affiliated credit union, they will get this book!
18. The Berenstain Bears’ Red Roadster (2000)
Everyone once in a while, I get to help a toy collector or Berenstain Bears fan “discover” this book, which is hidden in the undercarriage of the Bear Family’s Red Roaster. In fact the book is literally called Red Roadster!
And it’s made by Ertl, that company that every 80s and 90s kid knew. We begged our parents to go to Toys R Us or Kay-Bee to get the newest Ertl vehicles, but it wasn’t until years later I knew they made this Berenstain “hybrid.”
As a bonus, I’ve included a picture of the music box version of the Bear Family in their famous roadster.
17. The Berenstain Bears: It’s Magic! Mark ’n See (1991)
There are quite a few coloring and activity books on this list for two reasons. First, these books get consumed and thrown away (duh!). Second, publishers don’t print a lot of copies of them. Many only have a single edition, which may be only a few thousand copies. One of those REALLY rare activity books is what we lovingly refer to as ‘Magic Mark and See’, and it’s so rare that my collector friend Jeremy had to travel all the way to the Berenstain studios in Pennsylvania and beg Mike Berenstain himself to give up an archival copy. AND HE DID!
Look, it’s the Red Roadster!
And look how happy Jeremy is!
Amazingly, this is the first Native American language cartoon series EVER and voices of the characters are all from the Lakota-speaking communities of North and South Dakota – and reflect all local dialects of the language (Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud communities).
16. Lakota Berenstain Bears Teachers & Care-Giver’s Guide (2012)
We could make a separate list of our favorite foreign language Berenstain Bears books (they’ve been published in nearly two dozen languages) but we have to give a shout-out to this very special series: the Lakota Teachers Guide! This is a 2-volume manual that accompanies a 20-episode DVD of Berenstain Bears animated cartoons. Very few fans and collectors have these but, amazingly, these are still available for purchase. Add these to your collection now!
15. The Berenstain Bears Book of Values (1999)
Published by Alma’s Designs, this odd cloth book sort of randomly appeared in 1999 – it wasn’t part of any existing series or promotion.
And then it was gone.
Good luck finding one!
(That’s all we’ve got on this one.)
14. How to Tell Time Two Ways: Analog & Digital (featuring the Berenstain Bears) (1983)
This book is so rare – and SOOO COOL! This unique Berenstain Bears book was hidden inside the packaging of this Armitron watch – and teaches kids to tell time using both a traditional analog watch — and in that new-fangled digital way, too! Ultra-rare and Ultra-cool! PS. Brother likes digital and Sister likes analog!!!
13. The Berenstain Bears: All Through the Year Coloring Book (all three editions) (1991)
A true collector doesn’t just have the All Through the Year coloring book. A true collector has all three editions of it: standard, Giant edition, and Giant edition with easy tear-out pages. And if you think for a moment that the book is the same on the inside, guess again. The Giant version indeed has additional pages, and even the regular Giant and ‘easy tear out’ Giant version are slightly different. CRAZY RIGHT?
12. The Berenstain Bears Meet Questron: Left, Right, Stop, Go, and Other Things You Need to Know (1987)
The Berenstain Bears meet WHO?! (Or is it ‘whom’?) Anyway, there are actually TWO “Meet Questron” books and they are amazing. But the “Left, Right, Stop, Go” book is especially hard to find — and it’s not truly complete unless you have the Questron wand, which will ‘read’ the book to you! Do you have a Questron, that is the question. Tee hee hee.
11. The Berenstain Bears: Scrub-a-Dub-Dub (1996)
Bath books are easy to clean, transport, and even hold up to curious pets. Of course, they’re most fun … you guessed it… in the bath tub!!!
There are a bunch of Berenstain Bears bath books, but Scrub-a-Dub-Dub is the rarest of the bunch, especially if you’re trying to find it in the original packaging with the Sister-themed bar of soap.
It’s cute! It’s rare! It’s good clean fun!
(See what we did there?)
And now for … The top 10!
10. The Berenstain Bears’ Storybook Treehouse (1982)
Maybe the coolest-looking Berenstain Bears ‘book’ out there, this is actually a collection of FOUR super-tiny, super-short original stories: Mama Bear’s Trunk, Sister Bear’s Collection, Brother Bear’s Model Plane, and Pap Bear’s First Love.
Made by Random House, it literally stands up on its own – but it didn’t stand up well to toddlers, who tore apart this early-80s collectible – making it incredibly hard to find these days.
If you do find it, put it on a high shelf where it can remain in good condition. This one is uber-valuable!
9. The Berenstain Bears’ Family Favorites: Sing-a-long, Play-a-long (My Play a Tune Book) (1990)
This amazing “Play a Tune Book” literally has a little electronic keyboard built into it, and the interior pages of the book include simple folks songs and familiar tunes that you or your kids can easily learn to play.
One of the most special and unique books in the whole series, we love this book!
8. Papa’s Pizza: A Berenstain Bears Sniffy Book (the 8-sticker edition) (1978)
There is only one Berenstain Bears scratch-and-sniff book — and it’s (rightfully so) become one of the most notorious, prized, and sought after book in the collection. “Papa’s Pizza” is a truly unique treasure, and if you find a copy that still has scent in the stickers, you are in for a delicious, mouth-watering treat.
BUT BUYER BEWARE — there are actually two versions of this book, one of which is much more rare and valuable than the other. The first edition of this book had 8 stickers to smell… but, in an effort to save money, future printings only had 6 scratch ’n sniff stickers.
Naturally, the 8-scent edition is much more rare, much more valuable – and at least a little bit smellier!
PS. The two scents “missing” from the 6-sticker version are smoke and mushroom!
7. The Berenstain Bears and the Secret Clubhouse (My First Colorforms Books) (1994)
All three books in the Berenstain Bears “My First Colorforms” Series are rare (especially with the sticky plastic colorforms still intact), but Secret Clubhouse takes its titles literally – IT’S REALLY HARD TO FIND!
6. The Berenstain Bears’ Magic Picture Riddle Book (1985)
Another one of the all-time hardest to find coloring/activity books, this is also a super unique and creative publication.
Take a pencil to a blank space…. and scratch, scratch, scratch, scribble, scribble, scribble… and a picture magically appears!
The real magic, the true riddle to solve… is HOW DO I EVER GET MY HANDS ON A COPY?
Good luck – it’s super hard to find.
5. The Berenstain Bears Fun Book (1995)
For years, collectors considered this the “Holy Grail” of Berenstain Bears book collecting. This book was so rare, nobody even knew what it looked like. Some wondered if it had ever been published at all!
Then a few years ago, several perfect copies appeared on the market…. And then it disappeared again. Hopefully not forever! But if you were one of the lucky few to pick up a copy, treasure it dearly — there may only be a handful of these in the whole world. Wow!
Notice how small this book is!
Published by Golden, this little coloring/activity book could be very easy to overlook!
4. The Berenstain Bears Go Shopping (1994)
This is another “famously rare” book. Most people have heard of it, very few have ever read it! This special edition is unique for a couple reasons…. First, it features the Bear Family actually TRYING ON AND WEARING DIFFERENT CLOTHES! Second, it was bundled and sold as a premium with a family of Berenstain Bears plush toys (wearing those new clothes, of course).
They didn’t print very many copies of “Go Shopping” – and a lot of kids just threw the book away. Result: SUPER RARE BOOK!
3. Baby Bear’s Toy Animals (1984)
We could just as easily chosen “Baby Bear’s Toys ’n Noises” for this spot – it’s nearly as rare. These are the only two Berenstain Bears books made by the Stahlwood Toy Company (they also made a few more traditional Berenstain Bears toys around the same time).
These bath books are oh so cute and oh so rare.
If you ever see a copy of “Toy Animals”, grab it no matter the cost. This isn’t just a purchase, it’s an investment!
2. The Berenstain Bears: Little Book of Prayers & Poems (2018, then immediately recalled by the publisher)
The one that matters here is the YELLOW one. Listen to this! There are probably fewer copies of “Little Book of Prayers & Poems” in the world than any other book on this list — a publishing dispute meant that the book was pulled from shelves almost immediately after its publication. In fact, most stores never even received the book in time to put it on shelves before they were instructed to return their copies to the distributor. A few copies made it to market (especially if they had been pre-ordered online) …
Luckily for all Berenstain Bears fans, the book was later reissued under a slightly different title (and with a green cover – “My Bedtime Book of Poems & Prayers”) so we all have access to the great poetry and prayers within… but the true Holy Grail for most collectors who don’t already have it, is the yellow Little Book of Prayers. (And speaking of prayers, we’ll say a little prayer for you in the hopes you find a copy soon!)
1. The Berenstain Bears On the Job (Texas Instruments Magic Wand Reader edition) (1983)
So, The Berenstain Bears On the Job is indeed rare, though with a little patience (and a high-quality Google search) you will eventually find a copy.
But these Magic Wand books are REALLY only cool (and definitely only complete) if you can also get your hands on the actual Magic Wand Reader (aka Magic Wand Speak ’n Learn . That will take some dough…. And maybe a few years waiting for one to actually come to market.
On the Job is also unique because this story has been retold and recycled by the Berenstains many times over, since the original story was (basically) told in “He Bear, She Bear.” There have been variations like “At Work” (published only in the UK and Australia) and a faith-based version called “Jobs Around Town.” Of course there’s also the straight-up First Time Reader also called “On the Job.”
But don’t be fooled – none of them even begin to rival the Texas Instruments version. Yeah, that’s another thing…. this is made by Texas Instruments… remember them? Back in the 80s their electronic toys were the RAGE (remember Speak ’n Spell?). And in high school, you almost certainly used their graphing calculator!
Well, the company basically took early barcode technology and turned it into these computerized book readers, and man-oh-man do they sound cool.
Wanna see and hear one in action? Check out the video below…