Smokey Bear Turns 80

by Miss Rachel

You might remember the Disney film “Bambi” for its heartbreaking family story. But did you know that in 1942, Disney loaned the characters to the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention program (CFFP) for one year? After that year was up, the CFFP program needed to find a mascot all their own. They came up with the classic Smokey Bear.

This March, we are celebrating Smokey Bear’s 80th birthday at the library. We want to engage our young patrons in reading about wildfire prevention, forests, and natural resource careers, while exploring the local environment.

On March 27th at 4:00pm, Interpretive Naturalist Savannah Stephenson will be at the Litchfield Public Library. Kids of all ages are welcome to come and learn about the difference between controlled burns and wildfires. Additionally, attendees will get the chance to observe different prairie plant roots to see why some plants survive fire better than others.

For the month of March, kids can participate in the Smokey Bear Reading Challenge here at the library. Kids can complete different activities centered around reading and learning about nature to earn points. Once they’ve earned 8 points, they can come in for a prize. Attending storytimes and the event on March 26th are also worth points for the challenge.

We have plenty of books that qualify for the Smokey Bear Reading Challenge. Come take a look at some of our newest additions!

If you’re interested in reading more specifically about wildfires, we have several new books for young readers. “They Hold the Line: Wildfires, Wildlands, and the Firefighters Who Brave Them” by Dan Paley is a nonfiction picture book that informs readers about how firefighters take on the deadly natural disasters. “Wildfire!” by Ashley Wolff is another picture book that shows the hardships that the animals face when fire breaks out on Spruce Mountain. For fans of graphic novels, “Wildfire” by Breena Bard follows the story of young Julianna whose home is destroyed in a wildfire. How can Julianna move on from this devastation?

Young science explorers might be intrigued by the book “Search for a Giant Squid: Pick Your Path” by Amy Seto Forrester. Readers start out by picking their submersible, then their pilot and dive site, and continue on their exciting adventure. Packed with facts and terminology from the field, young readers can learn a lot from this venture.

Not everyone wants to read nonfiction, and for those readers, I suggest “a slightly scientific fairy tale” by Sandra Fay called “The Three Little Tardigrades.” For those who don’t know, tardigrades are more commonly known as moss piglets or water bears. With a Big Hairy Wolf Spider as the villain, this story is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the three little pigs. Perhaps the familiarity and the slightly scientific take may be just right for your next read with your young reader.

Smokey Bear continues to remind us to that “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Come to the library with your young readers throughout March to celebrate his 80th birthday.

“About the Campaign.” Smokey Bear, 4 Aug. 2021,

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