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A Massachusetts library is offering children tote bags full of books in exchange for a vow to swear off TVs and PCs during vacation.

W. David Gardner

April 21, 2006

1 Min Read

How can children be separated from the PCs and video game consoles that seem to be their natural appendages?

Offer them books, according to a library in Sherborn, Mass., which has seen many children make a pledge this school vacation week to shut off their TVs and PCs in return for books. The Sherborn Unplugged campaign is in its third year and has a goal of promoting reading as well as encouraging families to read together. On the first day of the campaign, elementary and middle school children lined up to get tote bags of books in exchange for their vows to put aside their electronic distractions. When the program began three years ago, Elizabeth Johnston, the town librarian, said she was surprised that the program was well received not only by children, but also by parents. "The program is definitely growing," said Donna Bryant, public services librarian at the suburban Boston library. "We had about 35 people the first year, then 48. So far this year, it's up to 56." The library gives bags of books to participants, who can chose from some 45 themes ranging from art and music to geology and sports. For instance, a "private eye bag" contains several detective books as well as a magnifying glass and a stamp pad for fingerprinting. "There's even an espionage novel," said Bryant. "That appeals to the parents." Librarian Johnston launched the program after parents expressed concern that their children were hooked on surfing the Web, playing video games, and watching television.

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