Smokey Bear Reading Challenge Ignites a Love of Nature in Delaware’s Young Readers

Smokey Bear Reading ChallengeSubmitted Image

DELAWARE — In honor of Smokey the Bear’s 80th birthday, the United States Forest Service and state library systems nationwide, including those in Delaware, are participating in the Smokey Bear Reading Challenge. The initiative is aimed at engaging children aged 4 to 10 in reading about wildfire prevention, forests, and natural resource careers.

The reading challenge, which runs through November 28, 2024, is designed to complement the 2024 National Summer Library Reading Program theme of “Adventure Begins at Your Library!” With this initiative, Delaware Libraries, in cooperation with the Delaware Forest Service (DFS), aim to bring adventure and nature education to their patrons.

“Delaware Libraries are excited to partner with the Delaware Forest Service and Smokey Bear to bring adventure and nature education to Delaware library users in 2024,” said Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian. “Smokey Bear’s Reading Challenge means that Delaware’s children of all ages can learn about wildfire prevention, connect with nature, and have adventures at their library!”

To promote the challenge, each of the 33 Delaware libraries will receive forestry-themed books, Smokey Bear signage, and prizes for those who complete the challenge. The DFS will also coordinate a statewide Smokey Bear Library Tour, during which Smokey will visit local libraries. Ashley Melvin, the lead trainer/educator for the DFS, will provide educational opportunities for children using their traveling nature center.

“Smokey Bear is a national icon, and the Delaware Forest Service is excited to help communities celebrate his 80th birthday,” said Ashley Melvin, DFS Trainer/Educator. “A big component of becoming environmentally literate is adopting environmentally responsible behaviors. Since 1944, Smokey Bear’s campaign has actively engaged the public to help prevent wildfires. I anticipate 2024 to be a very busy year for Smokey Bear!”

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The Smokey Bear Reading Challenge aims to teach participants about Smokey Bear history, campfire safety, nature exploration, careers in forestry and natural resources, and wildfire science. For more information on participating in the challenge, families are encouraged to visit their local library or the DFS’s Facebook page.

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