Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

Will loves the book “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle. It’s his favorite by far. Mine too.

It’s a simple book that names a bunch of animals & what they’re doing. Will can’t read yet, but it doesn’t matter because he knows it by heart. He reads it to me, word for word, every night before bed. “I see a red fox slipping by me” and “I see a prairie dog digging by me.” One by one he ticks them off with precision and accuracy as he rubs his eyes and tries to fight off the sleep quickly coming for him.

“I see a blue heron flying by me” and “I see a mule deer kicking by me.”

He doesn’t like some of the real text though, so he substitutes his own words. The rattlesnake doesn’t slither, it rattles. And the mountain doesn’t climb, he goes up the mountain. Apparently creative license and editorial ambiguity is genetic.

As we get towards the end I smile. My favorite part is coming up soon.

Will gets to the page with a picture of the mama bear. The line is supposed to read “Mama Bear, Mama Bear, what do you see? I see a—” and then you’re supposed to turn the page. But Will like to ad-lib. He says “I see a Mama Bear looking for her baby because she loves and misses him.” Then he curls into me and smiles. Our favorite part is next.

The next page consists of small pictures of every animal featured in the book. I point to each of them and Will rattles them off like clockwork. Red fox, blue heron, mountain goat, prairie dog, mule deer, flying squirrel, screech owls and—of course—the baby bear. After naming them all, Will pauses and smirks at me. The last line is supposed to read “That’s what I see.” But Will, in the cutest voice imaginable, ad-libs the final line.

“All wild animals are free.”

I don’t know why I get such a kick out of that, but it makes my day. And it’s proof that the best and most memorable part of having kids is the stuff that’s woven into the mundane fabric of our daily lives. While a part of me can’t wait to read the Hardy Boys & eventually the Harry Potter series with Will, I’m going to miss Baby Bear when he finally gets sick of it.

“Thanks for reading to me Dad,” he says. Can you believe that? He’s thanking me!

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3 thoughts on “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

  1. That’s adorable. Adrien and I sing two songs before bed (he’ll be three in March) – he has absolutely NO interest in reading. He just wants to look at the pictures if I pick up a book. Right now, it’s Jingle All The Way. The one with the interactive puppy that barks and howls along with certain words in the book. He loves it.

    I’m a Saw Doctors fan as well, and I’ve sang “Share the Darkness” to him since he was born. His favourite verse is the third, and he can sing it with me. We also sing “The Freshman” by Vervepipe – another I’ve sang since he was born, as it was on the radio one night I was up with him and I started to sing along and he went to sleep. He sings it to me sometimes. But no books yet. He is also on a kick right now to sing the national anthem. My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts cause all he can hear is “Oh Canada” from the bedroom at bedtime while he’s watching the hockey game. 🙂

  2. I had this book when I was little and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, maybe I’ll find another copy at a garage sale or something.

  3. I love Eric Carle books. My baby’s first book was a simple word book of his with pictures from A Very Hungry Caterpillar. Now she’s moved onto bigger ones like this book- definitely a favorite at our house.

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