Screen-Free Week 2023: You did it!

Screen-Free Week 2023: You did it!

That’s a wrap on Screen-Free Week 2023!

It was another great year, with more than 33,000 people pledging to participate or attending a registered Screen-Free Week event (and thousands more participating on their own). All told, our marketing efforts were seen by close to a million people!

People from across the world joined us for Screen-Free Week 2023, from the US and Canada, as well as Mexico, UK, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Pakistan, India, Cameroon, Fiji, and Australia.

Our largest event series continues to be in Wisconsin, where Screen Free Week Washington Ozaukee hosted a whopping 19 events including a King’s coronation tea party and a story walk (pictured).

Families of all shapes and sizes participated this year, spending time outside and in, and going on adventures in their community. For example…

We went to the Children’s and History Museums as well as the Science Center. We went to the park, we learned a lot of new card games and played some board games. We generally just enjoyed each other’s company.

-Devyn Shaffer

Hundreds of schools got in on the action this year too! Roanoke Ave Elementary School started their week with a “Read Aloud Milk and Cookies Night.” Ben Franklin Elementary School painted rocks for the school garden and brought in an ice cream truck. Mathewson Elementary School had a magic show.

Perhaps our biggest success this year was the growth in events sponsored by libraries and librarians around the world (have we mentioned lately that we love libraries?), as well as book publishers, many of whom offered discounts on their titles throughout the week.

The WWP Library in Farmingdale, NY collected pledges for kindergarteners (pictured) and did crafts. The Berkhamsted School Library in England had Screen-Free Bingo and games. Bronxville Public Library produced a “May the Fourth: Star Wars Lego Challenge.” Chilton Public Schools District Librarian, Sue Salzsieder produced a full week of events with a swim night (pictured above) and a chance to design your own couch potato (pictured right)!

This year’s Screen-Free Week also held some surprises for us! A host of new types of organizations, companies, and individuals participated in the week, like Wi-Fi free coffee shops, grocery stores, cabin rentals, healthcare systems, pediatricians, travel agents, workout studios, toy companies, IT and cellular service providers like US Cellular! Even a police department and heating and plumbing company participated!

We’re thrilled to see that the idea of Screen-Free Week resonates with so many different types of people!

Lastly, we want to thank our 2023 event partners—Let Grow, The Digital Wellness Institute, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and Children’s Book Week—for their support of this year’s event. We’re also sending a big shout out to our many awesome endorsing organizations. We appreciate every tweet, Facebook post, Instagram story, or email mention you sent out on our behalf!

Don’t forget! If you participated in this year’s Screen-Free Week, we’d love to hear how it went (doing so will enter you in a drawing to receive a free book!) Our online feedback form will be open until Sunday, May 21!


What do you need for your Screen-Free journey?

What do you need for your Screen-Free journey?

It’s here… Screen-Free Week starts Monday, May 1!

We hope you’ve made a pledge to join us (or, even better, planned a Screen-Free Week event!) If not, there’s still time!

Our biggest word of advice for next week? Manage your expectations.

  • Try working on ONE screen habit.
  • Take a break from ONE app.
  • Step outside for ONE deep breath in nature.

Remember, we’re going for progress here, not perfection.

How do you feel?

One thing we’ve learned from planning this year’s Screen-Free Week is that the Covid pandemic fundamentally and irrevocably changed our relationship with screens.

During that period, our screens become a lifeline and even a tether to sanity for many.

We understand that, in that context, asking people to go “screen-free” may seem not only like a luxury, but maybe even dangerous. (What if our kids are in trouble? What if we miss a deadline? How will we attend this Zoom meeting?)

We hear you. We feel that way too.

However, at the same time, we also know that the pandemic forced us all to sort of make a “deal with the devil.”

We readily choose to go ALL IN, knowing that more time staring at screens, more distraction, and more dependence was likely to have some negative impacts. We know it did for our children.

Honestly though? What other choice did we all have?

That’s why we believe Screen-Free Week is so important. We need to pause, recharge and reboot. If we don’t intentionally carve out this time, it simply won’t happen. The tools we have today are too omnipresent and integral to our lives to allow for long offline breaks naturally.

We believe Screen-Free Week is an important lifeline and tether to sanity too.

What do you need right now?

However, we’re at an interesting transition point in our culture.

We’re inviting everyone to make a change in their lives next week, but we also acknowledge that we’re all fighting different battles, with complex relationships to devices that didn’t even exist a few decades ago.

There is no one “right” way to manage our relationship with technology. There is no one way to be “screen-free.”

That’s why it’s so important to tell us what you need right now. What would make your Screen-Free Week successful? (How do you even define screen-free success?)

How can we support you in your Screen-Free Week journey? Our resoruce library is full of best guesses, but some of those tools may have outlived their usefulness while others may be critical to your week without us even knowing it.

If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions yet, that’s OK!

But please, check in with us after Screen-Free Week is over. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for the future!


Search for Treasure Everyday: Have Fun as a Family Without Screens

Search for Treasure Everyday: Have Fun as a Family Without Screens

Each year, we invite the authors from our Screen-Free Children’s Booklist to contribute to our blog, to illustrate why unplugging from screens is important to them! In this post, republished from Lawley Publishing with permission, Treasure Hunt author Stephanie Wildman offers some awesome screen-free activities and discusses how she uses the book to inspire creativity! Also be sure to check out Stephanie reading Treasure Hunt here and additional resources for use with the book here. Treasure Hunt is illustrated by Estefania Razo. También en español (squeda del Tesoro).

by Stephanie Wildman, author of Treasure Hunt


Screens are everywhere in modern life. From television to smart phones to computers, children see us engaging with screens. Naturally, children want to know what screens are about and want to watch, too.

Treasure Hunt character Luis holds up clues to his younger siblings.

Doctors have found that too much screen time is not healthy for cognitive, social-emotional, and overall development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting digital media use to no more than 1 hour a day for ages 2 to 5. A Journal of American Medical Association 2019 study showed screen time adversely affects brain development in pre-school-age children. (Find that article here:

A 2022 study by the same authors in Scientific Reports further reinforced concerns about brain structure and functions, even while recognizing that the use of screens has continued to expand. (Find that article here:

We all understand that the screens are here to stay. When used judiciously, they can provide a kind of downtime for children and parents. Nonetheless, we all want to avoid overdoing the screens for our children and ourselves. We want kids to read books, not just stare at screens. We want them playing outside, moving and being active, and engaging indoors with puzzles, board games, cards, baking or cooking, as well as reading books. We want them to search for the treasure in every day, not just spend time glued to a screen.

Providing an alternative to screen time can be challenging. In this post I want to share some activities my family developed. These ideas, generated during the pandemic, led to the story in Treasure Hunt, illustrated by Estefania Razo, where Luis, the older brother, creates a fun substitute for his twin siblings’ screen time using empty toilet paper rolls and a cardboard box.

Crafts with Empty Toilet Paper Rolls and Cardboard Boxes

When parents worked from home on screens and the oldest of my grandchildren attended school via zoom, I spent a lot of time with the youngest, who would otherwise have been attending pre-school.

He and I created puppets out of toilet paper rolls. We wrote a story using the puppets about a little boy who saved the rainbow after overhearing someone tell a child to “eat the rainbow.” With the help

of a wise wizard, the boy in the story travelled to all the rainbow colors’ houses to warn them of the danger. At each home, the boy found delicious fruits and vegetables in the gardens that matched that rainbow color. It turned out that “eating the rainbow” meant fashioning a diet full of these colors – the rainbow wasn’t in danger after all! We drew illustrations for the gardens and created a puppet theater out of an old cardboard box to put on a show for the family.

Websites with ideas for creating puppets out of toilet paper rolls abound, findable with a simple search. Results will include YouTube videos and puppets ranging from simple birds and animals to copyrighted movie characters. Encourage your children to tell you a story with puppets or make puppets to fit a story.


Treasure Hunting

Whenever the grandkids came to my house for a sleepover and I had bought them small gifts, I would hide these items throughout the house. Searching for these gifts was just as much fun, if not more, than opening the gift itself.

Because of their age difference, I had the grandkids hunt as a team, as Luis does in the story, so that the oldest wouldn’t automatically win every time. Each person finding the treasure (usually the oldest, but not always) would stand in the center of the room without revealing the location of the hidden object.

Only when all searchers met in the middle could the hiding spot be disclosed by the one who had found it first. They especially delighted in hunts where grandpa joined in and the kids found the treasure before he did.

Craft supplies (like the ones Luis hid for the twins), stickers, and pens are all fun objects to hide. To minimize wear and tear in the house, we had rules like “it’s in plain sight, so you can’t move anything” or “you can only open cabinets below your chin” or “no closets.”

With the found treasures, in addition to puppets, you can create a blank book with paper and staples for stickers and drawings. Have your child draw and use stickers to tell a story. You can add words if the children aren’t writing themselves yet.


Write a Poem

If your child isn’t drawn to a story, try a poem. Yes, really! You can create a “fill-in-the-blank” poem template like the one below or make up your own. For this example poem, give the instruction to write about “your important person” (mother, father, grandparent, aunt, caregiver). Note the last line should end with the important person’s identity like “She is my mother.” The first line should be a descriptive noun, like “protector,” “influence,” “comfort,” or “encourager.”

She is my __________________.
When I am as sad as ever,
She _______________________.
When I go crazy like a bucking bronco,
She _______________________.
When I go to a friend’s house,
She _______________________.
With the rising sun I see her _______________.
And as it sets, I see her _____________________.
I see her talking on the phone,
and I feel __________.
I want to tell her I love her.
She is my _______________.

Another fun idea for older children is creating a reverso poem, where the first half of the poem repeats in reverse as the last half of the poem. Picture book author and poet Marilyn Singer offers this example in her blog post on the topic (which you can find here:

A cat
a chair:

A chair
a cat.

In a reverso, the poet changes capitalization and punctuation to make the words meaningful.

For a tour de force of this genre, I recommend Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Tracy Subisak, about a child’s visit to a grandma and the grandma’s visit to the child.

Read, Read, Read

Reading books with children, of course, provides a non-screen focus with wonderful time together.

Many of the books available through Lawley Publishing have educational materials available, which you can do as an activity after reading the book. For example, the extensive resource guide for Pigs Dancing Jigs by Maxine Rose Schur, illustrated by Robin DeWitt and Patricia DeWitt-Grush, includes activities aimed at Pre-K through first grade that cover every letter of the alphabet, even X! (Find it here: ). You can find the educational material under the “Resources” tab at the top of the Lawley Publishing website. Activities, including coloring pages, for Treasure Hunt can be found here:


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1/4 c. Apple Sauce
  • 1 c. Honey
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Dark Baking Cocoa
  • 2 ½ c. Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/3 cup quality Chocolate Chips (I favor Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, cream together butter, apple sauce, and honey. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and then mix in.
  3. Add cocoa, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. I use two spoons to create balls on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Baking should also work with parchment or a greased sheet as well.
  5. Bake for 9 -13 minutes, depending on your oven.


Sometimes I add 1 tsp. of mint or vanilla. You can also use this recipe to make 6-8 giant cookies.

So skip the screens; read some books; write stories and poems; bake some cookies; and search for treasure in every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Wildman is the author of Treasure Hunt (illustrated by Estefania Razo; translated into Spanish as Búsqueda del Tesoro by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave) and Brave in the Water (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar; translated into Spanish as Valiente en el Agua by Cecilia Populus-Eudave).

Get Revved Up After You Power Down!

Get Revved Up After You Power Down!

Screen-Free Week is an amazing opportunity to reboot, recharge, and rest. It also might get you thinking…

  • Why can’t EVERY week be this mellow?
  • How did our family’s screen habits get so out of control?
  • Why am I still reaching for my phone three days after I stuffed it in a drawer?

Sometimes it takes the act of removing something toxic from our lives to realize how just angry it has made us.

While Screen-Free Week is a positive event, it was created to address a pretty negative phenomenon, namely the fact that our entertainment screens are sucking up huge chunks of our lives. It’s OK to be grumpy about that.

Why not put those feelings to work and devote some of your Screen-Free Week to activism and advocacy, in addition to, the rest and relaxation?

Sound intriguing? Here are some ideas to consider.

Are you worried about kids and screen time?

We are too. That’s the whole mission of Fairplay, the host of Screen-Free Week and the Screen Time Action Network. Both could use your help.

We’ll be needing all hands on deck in the coming months to help support new legislation surrounding kids and screens. Sign up for Fairplay’s email list to learn more.

If that’s not your thing, consider joining one of the Action Network’s work groups on topics like online harms, nature and play, screens in schools, and mental health, or downloading their new Screen Aware Early Education Action Kit. Or, simply become a member.

Are you worried about LGBT+ online hate?

We are too. It’s particularly rampant in social media. In fact, 40% of LGBTQ+ adults and 49% of transgender and nonbinary people say they do not feel welcomed and safe on social media.

So, what if you dedicated your Screen-Free Week to taking a #HolidayFromHate—a campaign started by Screen-Free Week teen volunteers? The goal is to go dark for one week on the social media platform of your choice, wherever you find cyberbullying, trolling, and online hate the worst against LGBT+ and other marginalized communities.

Be sure to pair your “holiday” with a little action, too. Let your social network know why you’re taking the #HolidayFromHate, share the hashtag, and send an email to that platform letting the owners know that people’s lives, voices, and safety deserve more respect.

Also, if/when you return to that platform on May 8, get ready to start using that block or report button to take a more active role in reporting hateful posts.

Are you worried about teenagers?

We are too… and many of them agree with us! That’s why teen volunteers are also running a Screen-Free Week campaign to encourage young people around the globe to take a week off their most toxic social media accounts.

The campaign is called #RememberLife? It’s a chance for youth to reflect on the parts of their lives they’ve lost touch with because of social media, or the parts social media may have damaged. Before their phones took over their lives 24/7, teens were just kids with hopes and dreams. Remember those?

We grown-ups aren’t invited to participate in this particular campaign (WE remember an entirely different kind of teenage life!) But our teen volunteers would love it if we invite the young adults in our lives to follow the hashtag on Instagram and TikTok, share their stories, and take a break, May 1-7.

Need more ideas for taking action during Screen-Free Week, especially when you have younger kids at home? Check out our Screen-Free Saturdays blog post, called “Unplug to Help” for kid-friendly ways to take your Screen-Free Week to the next level!


Find Your Spark With Children’s Book Week 2023, May 1-7

Find Your Spark With Children’s Book Week 2023, May 1-7

Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in
the country. Every year, young people across the country participate by attending events at
schools, libraries, bookstores, celebrating at home, and engaging with book creators both online
and in person.

This celebration of books and reading is a time for readers of all ages to share books that they
love, to discover new books, and to engage with their communities.

We LOVE books and we want people everywhere to tap into that same joy. Every Child a
Reader’s mission is clear in its name, and Children’s Book Week is one of the main ways we
work to accomplish our goal.

So, what can you do to celebrate Children’s Book Week (May 1-7) and what resources do we
have to help?

Children’s Book Week 2023 is all about the spark of inspiration that can come from a book. Our
theme is Read Books. Spark Change. which speaks to the power that books and stories have
to inspire positive change. Books can spark change within an individual reader, a family, a
classroom, or a whole community.

Every Child a Reader has created a bunch of free resources for kids and adults to celebrate and
find their spark.

  • The Official Children’s Book Week Poster by Rilla Alexander. About her poster Rilla said
    “For the theme Read Books. Spark Change, I kept coming back to the butterfly effect. And
    how, even if you’re small, you can make a big difference.”
  • Activity pages in Spanish and English. Kids can color their own poster, write or draw a
    story, and more.
  • Find Your Spark Challenge. Follow the steps in the Challenge guide to find your newest
    spark from a book.
  • Bookmarks with activities by five amazing illustrators. Print them all, cut the bookmark
    off to use in your current read and enjoy the fun, related activities.
  • Drawing Instructions. Kids interested in learning more about how illustrators create book
    characters can use these step-by-step instructions to draw all kinds of things.

Anyone can celebrate from anywhere using these resources. You can host a book party, go to a
library or bookstore, read by yourself, or read with someone. Let us know how you are
celebrating on social media using #ReadBooksSparkChange.

We love that our celebration coincides with Screen Free Week. Diving into a good book or
magazine is a perfect way to celebrate both!

Guest post by our Screen-Free Week promotional partner, Every Child a Reader.