Yesterday I had an email from Beth who is organizing an “unplugged week” at her school and is looking for the following:
“…suggestions on books (i.e. stories that have children finding out how fun it is to unplug). I have a bunch on the 5-8 year olds, but after that, the selection peters out. “
There are just a few books that I can think of that might be appropriate:
Fix-It, by David McPhail is the sweetly illustrated story of a bear named Emma who awakes one morning to find the TV broken! She wails and cries and begs her parents to fix it. By the time the TV is fixed, Emma is happily reading stories to her doll and her cat and has no interest in TV anymore. Would appeal to younger readers (under 8).
Of course there is also the poem “Jimmy Jet and his TV-Set” by Shel Silverstein (from his wonderful book Where the Sidewalk Ends). Very amusing. It is suitable for older kids and would most likely make an impression on them, but perhaps does not exactly teach the joy of unplugging. Read the poem here.
The last book that might fit the theme is Wild About Books by Judy Sierra. Although this award-winning book doesn’t mention unplugging the TV, it does describe a zoo full of animals and the fun that they have when they discover reading (and writing) books. This is a helpful and entertaining book because it is written at a level that younger children can understand, yet older children (if they aren’t “too cool” for it) might enjoy too. It mentions many familiar books and series (Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Goodnight Moon, The Wizard of Oz, etc.) and literary terms (drama, haiku, mystery, etc.). There are even a few plays on words that only older kids would understand.
Beyond these three ideas, I am at a loss.
I don’t know what the format of Beth’s “unplugged week” is, but for older children (above age 8) there are probably not a lot of pro-unplug TV books out there (on the contrary, many seem to “tie-in” with popular TV-series).
If it were my “unplugged week” to organize, I would probably work on emphasizing the joy of reading. I would also focus on books that teach older children fun games and activities that they can do without TV. There are many books of activities that teach “lost arts” in our hi-tech, video-oriented age. Here are a few:
So my question to you is: Do any of you have book ideas for Beth? If so, I am sure that she would appreciate some suggestions. Please leave a comment with your ideas!
PS. How about organizing an “unplugged week” at your school too? National TV Turn-Off Week is April 21-27.