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Guest Post from Rinny Yourman-Outreach Coordinator for Screen-Free Week
Screen-Free Week is coming up April 29-May 5 – and it’s the perfect opportunity for children to Jump Into a Book!
Screen-Free Week 2019
Screen-Free Week is an annual, international celebration hosted by the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, that encourages children, families, schools, and communities to go free of entertainment screens for an entire week. There are many reasons to celebrate Screen-Free Week, but one significant purpose is to help children and families to aim for greater screen balance in the long run. The week originally began as TV Turnoff Week in 1994 with the goal of reducing time spent watching television; CCFC began hosting the event in 2010, renaming it Screen-Free Week in light of the greater variety of digital screens competing for children’s free time.
Why is Screen-Free Week so important? Recent studies of entertainment screen use (which excluded screens for schoolwork and homework) have found that children spend a lot of free time in front of screens; an average of nearly nine hours of media entertainment daily (teens), nearly six hours (tweens), and more than two hours (children eight and younger).
With so much free time spent on screens, children are missing out on the joys of such offline activities like reading, gardening, exercising, exploring, volunteering, crafting, and so much more. Screen-Free Week is about bringing children together, and bringing together children and the loving adults in their lives, to experience life in the present moment through shared, screen-free activities.
Ways to be Screen-Free
Reading, of course, is a natural fit for Screen-Free Week! Families and schools routinely incorporate reading and book-related activities in their Screen-Free Week celebrations. Families can:
- Read (aloud, to themselves, a child, to a parent or caregiver, to a sibling, to a grandparent)
- Visit their local library
- Attend Screen-Free Week events at their local library or bookstore
- Start a book journal of books they want to read
- Create a special bookmark
- Write a letter to a beloved author or illustrator
- Try out a book that is different from the kinds of books they normally read (whether by topic, genre, or protagonist)
Schools have lots of options for Screen-Free Week as well. They can choose to:
- Host daily read-alouds for younger students (a teacher, head of school, librarian, or even someone unexpected, like the P.E. teacher, school nurse, or popular administrator)
- Dedicate daily time to silent reading
- Hold a book costume parade of favorite book characters
- Write letters to a favorite author or illustrator of a book read in class
- Invite a local author to read and speak to students
- Hold fun book-related activities in the school library during the day (i.e., ask students to vote on what they like more: dog- or cat-themed books, etc.)
- Hold a poetry slam
- Read on the playground, if the weather is warm
- Read books about gardening before Screen-Free Week, then start a school garden during Screen-Free Week
Regardless of the event or activity, Screen-Free Week allows families and schools to celebrate reading together, in a way that is fun, memorable, and meaningful.
We all share the common goal of making reading as vital to children’s lives as possible, and sometimes it means finding creative ways of bringing the world of books alive. Screen-Free Week allows parents, caregivers, and educators space and time to do so.
An added bonus is that Screen-Free Week takes place at the same time as the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week!
So let’s all strive for a little “unplugged” and Screen-Free time in our lives. Mark April 29-May 5 on your calendars, start planning your family and school events now, and read!
Rinny Yourman is Outreach Coordinator for Screen-Free Week. The Screen-Free Week website offers valuable free resources and handouts to families and schools looking to celebrate Screen-Free Week, including permission slips, reading pledges, certificates of achievement, booklist of children’s books about going screen-free, and more. Many of these resources are available in English and Spanish. You can also follow Screen-Free Week on Facebook.