Screen-Free Booklist Authors Celebrate Screen-Free Week

Screen-Free Booklist Authors Celebrate Screen-Free Week

Our 2023 Screen-Free Booklist, in collaboration with Children’s Book Week is filled with awesome books to inspire healthy screen time! Three authors of books added this year shared videos with us where they talk about Screen-Free Week or read from their stories. Check them out below and get the full booklist here. 

Author Howard Pearlstein wishes us a happy Screen-Free Week and talks about his book, Connor Crowe Can’t Let Go!


“Would you rather have 100 friends that you’ve never met online or one that will actually show up in person when you really needed them?” Author Dr. Allan Peterkin reads from Peacock & Sketch.

Author Annette Sexton reads from Timmy’s Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress (But I Tame It, Big Time) for Screen-Free Week.

Stephanie Wildman reads her book, Treasure Hunt, a new addition to the Screen-Free Children’s Booklist this year! 

We can’t wait to celebrate with you during Children’s Book Week and Screen-Free Week, from May 1-7, 2023! Happy reading!

NEW! Books to Inspire Healthy Screen Use

NEW! Books to Inspire Healthy Screen Use

We love celebrating during the same week as Children’s Book Week because one of our favorite Screen-Free Week activities is reading! 

Each year, we pair up with the Children’s Book Council to curate a list of books that inspire kids and teens to unplug and have healthy relationships with technology! This year, we added six awesome new books to our list! We love so much about them, but here are the highlights, below:

by David W. Miles, illus. by Natalie Hoopes (Familius)
What we love: Simple words and soft illustrations celebrate the idea that books, with no off switch and no need to charge, hold amazing worlds! (Ages 4-8)


Climb On!
by Baptiste Paul, illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara (NorthSouth Books)
What we love: This multilingual (English and Creole) book tells the story of a child who pulls her dad away from the TV to go for a hike. The two bond as they encounter little adventures on the way to the top! (Ages 4-8)


Peacock and Sketch
by Allan Peterkin, MD, illus. by Sandhya Prabhat (APA Books for Children and Teens)
What we love: Kid-friendly commentary on influencers and fast fame! We love the illustrations, the quirky Peacock character, and the message of the importance of real friendship. (Ages 4-8)


Connor Crowe Can’t Let Go
by Howard Pearlstein, illus. by Stefani Buijsman (Clavis)
What we love: It’s hard to put down the screen; this book adds humor to the problem when the screen literally sticks to little Connor! (Ages 5-9)


Treasure Hunt
by Stephanie Wildman, illus. by Estefania Razo (Lawley Publishing)
What we love: A big brother leads younger siblings away from video games and toward a fun treasure hunt! We love to see siblings guiding siblings in healthy screen habits. (Ages 5-12)


Timmy’s Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress (But I Tame It, Big Time)
by Dr. Raun Melmed, illus. Jeff Harvey (Familius)
What we love: This book was written by an ADHD expert for children who need support with device use. We love that it offers concrete tactics for managing screen time, a suggestion made by a peer to Timmy the monster who finds success and a happy balance in the end. (Ages 7-11)

The list also features past winners, which include books for readers ages 0-18! Get the full list here.

What we love about these books is they serve as great conversation starters. We look for books that don’t shame kids about their screen use, but instead are empathetic to how hard it is to put down a device while also providing inspiration to unplug!

We can’t wait to celebrate with you during Children’s Book Week and Screen-Free Week, from May 1-7, 2023! Happy reading!


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.

There’s something kids actually love more than screens

There’s something kids actually love more than screens

What to do about all the young people on their phones, growing depressed, anxious…and worse?

Well, there’s an ancient plaything kids have loved forever (literally). It keeps them occupied for hours and can actually hold its own against TikTok.

It’s called “the world.”

Screen-Free Week is the perfect time to make an introduction: Kids, World. World, Kids.

Liberate the kids

If we liberate our children from all the time they’re spending online — if we give them back some free time and free play — they’ll have an alluring alternative to the couch. But without much chance to hang out with their friends in real life, unsupervised, the only place they can have fun and socialize freely is online.

That’s bad. My colleague and Let Grow co-founder Jonathan Haidt has chilling graphs that show childhood mental health  problems, and, I hate to write it, suicide spiking since 2012 – the year the smart phone became ubiquitous, even in the hands of teens and tweens.

The only way to get kids off social media is to come up with an alternative that’s even MORE fun. Fortunately, that’s what play and exploration ARE…when kids get to do them.

Playing is what we’re meant to do

It may feel like kids prefer the virtual world to the real one. But when a 2010 survey by IKEA asked them whether they prefer playing with friends or playing online, 89% chose playing with friends. And they were online when they took the survey! Playing outside was their favorite activity of all.

Playing is what all young mammals come pre-programmed to do. While I, too, am currently addicted to my phone, I of course didn’t have one as a kid, which means that a lot of my free time was truly free – to ride my bike, play with friends, read, draw, spend time in the woods. Classic. It wasn’t that interesting – except to me.

Because without a wildly attention-grabbing movie theater/game device/popularity meter in my pocket, I had to engage with whatever else there was: friends, fun, nature, boredom.

How do we fight back?

But in the past generation or two, as children’s free time and independent moibility (getting around on their own) have declined, kids have been in decline, too. This started happening long before the invent of the smart phone, but it sped everything up, and social media seems like the most corrosive part of that change. How to fight back?

1. We have to start renormalizing kids out and about on their own. Otherwise, the only world left for them to explore is online. In keeping kids “safe” from strangers, traffic, bugs, and bullies, we’ve kept them UN-safe from anxiety, depression, and suicide.

2. We should also work to popularize programs like ”Wait Until  8th,” where parents jointly agree to wait til their kids reach 8th grade before giving them a phone.

3. We suggest you ask your school to start a Let Grow Play Club. It’s so simple! The school stays open for mixed-age, no-devices, free play after school. There’s an adult (or teen) in the corner with an Epi pen. But other than that, it’s old-fashioned fun. The kids organize the games. They solve the spats. They figure out stuff kids have always figured out, like how to deal with a cheater, or a little brother who keeps running onto the field. Kids become engaged and confident when they get to do things like that. Real things.

And as one 4th grader told me when I asked whether he prefered playing in real life or online: “You can make friends online, but when you take the headphones off, there’s no one there.” Added his friend, “I like real life.”

Kids are desperate to play and be together. If the only place we allow them to do that is online, that’s where they will go.

Give them back the real world – without adults constantly supervising, organizing, and “helping” — and you just may have to clang a cowbell to get them to come in for dinner.

Let freedom ring.

Skenazy is president of Let Grow, a nonprofit promoting childhood independence and resilience, and founder of the Free-Range Kids movement.