Screen-Free Week: Unplug and Read ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’

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Are your kids addicted to their screens? (Heck, are you addicted to your screens?) While there are certainly redeeming qualities to TV, computers, video games and smart phones, it’s a daily challenge for all of us to pry our eyes away from “connectedness” and connect with the real world around us. Studies show that preschoolers spend approximately 32 hours per week using screen media; older children spend even more.

Well, here’s your chance to pry the entire family free: Next week—April 29-May 5—is Screen-Free Week sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. This annual event encourages families to unplug from electronic entertainment for seven days and do things like think, read, play, daydream, explore nature and enjoy family and friends.

To participate, we’re excited to host a stop on the Random House Kids Unplug & Read Blog Tour, which is moving from blog to blog to help suggest great new books that kids and young adults can read during the Screen-Free Week. One suggestion from Random House Kids that the whole family can read is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder and adapted for young adult readers by Michael French.

Mountains Beyond Mountains tells the story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who has dedicated is life to ridding the poorest communities on the planet of infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The book follows his life, from his unconventional childhood living in an old bus and run-down boat with his parents and five siblings to his college days at Duke and Harvard, and then to his dual career as both a caring country doctor in places like Haiti, Peru and Russia and an international crusader for the human rights of the poor. Compelling for teens and adults alike, Farmer’s story opens eyes to the plight of the impoverished around the world, as well as what it takes to tackle such overwhelming issues with hope. Sure to spark interesting discussions, it’s a great book to read along and with teens.

Random House Kids has put together book recommendations for kids of all ages, as well as some fun, downloadable activities for Screen-Free Week. Here’s a video about a few of the featured authors and illustrators talking about how their unplugged childhoods fostered their creativity.

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