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It’s Almost Screen Free Week, Get Ready to Unplug! Dan Yaccarino Joins Us

April 24, 2013

As we approach Screen Free Week, April 29 – May 5, and some of us are a little nervous about being without our many “devices”, Dan Yaccarino, author and illustrator of the recently published Doug Unplugged joins us at RAoR to offer some wise and entertaining words. 

Doug Unplugged

My new picture book, DOUG UNPLUGGED, is the story of a little robot, who learns about the world through digital downloads. However, our inquisitive android soon decides he could learn far more by venturing out into the real world, so he unplugs and this high tech bot has some low tech fun.

It’s all about the benefits of actual experiential learning and playing over the digital sort, but here’s the funny thing about this book: I created the art digitally.

Yes, I know it sounds a bit odd to use a digital device to create art for a book about unplugging from digital devices, but I think it entirely makes sense! The truth is, it wasn’t done entirely digitally. I actually drew black ink and brush line drawings on vellum paper, and scanned them. Then I opened them in Photoshop, manipulated them and applied the color, so the art was half traditional, half digital- a balance between the virtual and real worlds.

RAoR Doug-Unplugged-Poses-Reading-Book-and-Looking-at-Butterfly

This is the real message of the book. Balance!

Sure, tech like smart boards help teachers, school websites allow parents to view their kid’s grades (sometimes to their dismay) and apps like Skype can connect an author like me with my readers on the other side of the globe. Of course, there are social media sites, text messaging and about a billion games that kids use, too.

But I grew up in a world where computers were big as refrigerators and not for the average person. I created images and got my hands dirty, did research by going to the library and played games in my backyard. I think we should all have these experiences, but in order to do that, we need to unplug once in a while. It would be foolish to turn our backs on the incredible strides we’ve made, and continue to make, in technology, but it needs to find it’s place in our lives.

RAoR Doug-Unplugged-Poses-Looking-at-Flower

A good way to do this is to participate in Screen Free Week, which runs from April 29 to May 5. Unplugging may be a lot easier than you think!

As a parent, I know that my actions speak louder than when I text my kids “Do as I say, not as I do” in regards to unplugging once in a while. They only reply “U R a nrd dad.”

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi said, so I realize it’s up to me to show them that their options are not merely a scroll down menu in an application.

Our options are not yet programmed and indeed limitless, as long as we’re able to unplug once in a while.

 RAoR Doug Carrying Book

Many thanks to Dan Yaccarino for joining us today, I think we’re all a little better prepared to go Screen Free!

If you’d like to catch up with our other Screen Free author and illustrators you can click through for posts from Tad Hills and Bob Staake, and be sure to join us on Friday April 26th for a post with Chris Raschka. All of these authors will be participating in the kickoff event for Screen Free Week at the Eric Carle Museum on Sunday April 28th!

Tell us how you’re spending Screen Free Week in our comments section.

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