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Legend has it that decades ago a polar bear family decided to pull up stakes and head south.

This family of three—a mama bear, a papa bear and their cub, Boomer—made their way from the frigid tundra of Northern Canada down to the horrendously hot Sonoran Desert.

Boomer, the legend contends, is no ordinary bear. Like many of his fans, this polar bear is a ravenous reader, can write with the best of them and will polish off a pepperoni pizza before you can plead. “Save a piece for me, please!”

And while Boomer is no ordinary Bear, Bear Essential News is certainly no ordinary newspaper, especially as it celebrates its big birthday throughout this school year!

Time Warping Back to the Late ’70s

In the late ’70s, Jimmy Carter is POTUS (President of the United States). And on May 4, 1979, Margaret Thatcher becomes the United Kingdom’s first woman prime minister and will end up serving longer than any other person in the UK during the 20th century.

Some rather cool newsworthy events took place in 1979. Voyager 1, a spacecraft launched by NASA two years earlier, makes its closest approach to Jupiter and photographs the giant planet’s rings, takes a look at some of its moons, and measures radiation and magnetic fields before continuing on to the outer edges of our solar system!

Here on earth, it snows on part of the Sahara Desert for the first time in modern memory! (Feb.18, but the snow only falls for about a half an hour.)

In Tokyo, a Japanese company ACTIVATES the first analog cellular phone system, which later covers all of Japan.

For sports nuts, ESPN makes its debut broadcast on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Personal computers, including the Apple II, have been around for a couple years, and just about every home has at least one color TV!

If you were around in 1979, you and your family might enjoy prime-time shows like “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie,” or sit-coms like “Happy Days” with the Cunningham family and the Fonz, and “Mork & Mindy.” It’s definitely a time of great INNOVATION. Big electronic arcade games like Galaxian and Asteroids hit the scene, taking space away from traditional pinball machines. But if you and your sibs are lucky, you could pop a game cartridge like the new “Atari Adventure” into your Atari 2600 and play electronic games at home!

Personal computers also play a part of the $1.5-billion video game craze in America.

In its own way, Bear Essential News is a major innovation, too!

Bear Is Born...

In 1979, the Caldecott Medal goes to the beautifully illustrated children’s book, “The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses,” while “The Westing Game” earns the Newbery Medal as the outstanding book for young readers. But in September of that year, it’s a newspaper—for kids—that’s rolling off the press in Tucson!

Bear Essential News for Kids is born!

A Tucson teacher couldn’t find any media that delivered news at a kid’s level. And what she ENVISIONED would not only help keep students well-informed, but would also sharpen their reading and writing skills!

Fortunately, the schoolteacher’s husband is a talented graphic designer, who creates the newspaper’s first nameplate and draws the front cover and all the artwork that goes into Volume 1, Issue 1. Bundles of this new newspaper for kids, families and classrooms are delivered free to schools throughout Tucson. The eight-page black-and-white newspaper is cool in a campy way. The stories are short and the accompanying headlines and artwork are hand drawn!

Boomer Before He Was Boomer

If you look closely at the nameplate of the very first issue of Bear Essential News for Kids, there’s a bear working at a school desk.

Yes, the bear has no clothes on—he’s a bare bear. And he doesn’t go by Boomer as he does now—he only goes by the name, “The Bear.”

A year-and-a-half after its first issue, Bear Essential News expands so school kids in the Phoenix area can start enjoying the newspaper, too!

Bear Grows

A year-and-a-half after its first issue, Bear Essential News expands so school kids in the Phoenix area can start enjoying the newspaper, too! Since there are many, many more kids and families in the Valley than in Tucson, the newspaper’s circulation more than triples—the concept of a free, fun and educational news- paper for young people

is a hit!

Advertisers seeking to reach Bear’s thousands of readers and sponsors who want to support the paper make this free publication financially possible.

Kids Start Reporting for Bear

Just a few months after the newspaper expanded throughout the Valley, Bear started working closely with teachers to teach kids the ins and outs of reporting. These cub reporters covered stories that interested them and were published in the newspaper!

These reporters are the eyes and ears of Bear Essential News, covering the stories that happen in their world—at their school, at church, in scouts or afterschool clubs, at camp or on vacation.

They cover big stories, too, meeting presi- dents, Senators and Representatives, governors, generals and famous athletes. They nab exclusive interviews with people like Justin Timberlake, chimp expert Jane Goodall, violinist Itzhak Perlman, Steven Spielberg, country singer Bonnie Raitt and legendary news icons like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather.

Bear Essential News and the Young Reporters Program have earned several awards from local and state reading associations...

Now It’s Volume 40, Issue 1 for Bear!

Today, the Young Reporters Program is the heart of the newspaper. It’s run by the non-profit Bear Essential Educational Services to give students a voice, to develop them as young writers and to build their self-esteem. Any student in grades 3 through 8 can join the free Young Reporters Program. A printable sign- up form is online at under the Young Reporters tab.

Fill it out, have your parent sign at the bottom and mail it in to get your official Young Reporter Kit!

Going on its 40th year, Bear Essential News has been around long enough that your parents (if they’re from around here) grew up with it!

The newspaper’s offerings have evolved to include more in-depth news and features; fun and informative sponsored columns on animals, the environment, scouting, health and money; the popular front cover seek-n-find; ads for kids and families, and don’t forget Bear’s guides, including Boomer’s Field Trip and Teachers Resource Guide that’s part of this issue!

For digital media, Bear offers free standards-based classroom work sheets each month, a weekly newsletter for parents and its website for everybody!

Bear Essential News and the Young Reporters Program have earned several awards from local and state reading associations, drug prevention programs, and business and education-based organizations. Readers are winners and Young Reporters ROCK!