Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Web scheme to get Bebo generation hooked on books
Published in The Scotsman: 02 August 2009
By Marc Horne

SCOTLAND is to get a teen literacy tsar in a bid to encourage the Bebo generation to read.
Over the centuries the country has produced a series of internationally acclaimed wordsmiths from Sir Walter Scott to JK Rowling.But there are fears that this literary tradition could suffer as youngsters spend more time plugged into social networking sites and computer games, and less in the library.

Now the Scottish Book Trust (SBT) is to appoint a Virtual Writer in Residence who will use the internet to get adolescents hooked on reading and writing.The successful candidate will be named next month following the success of an earlier pilot scheme.

The SBT has advertised for a dynamic teen fiction writer with a passion for inspiring young people and innovative ideas about how to do this.Book Trust spokeswoman Jasmine Fassl said the virtual writer, so-called because they will not be based in a single location and will be working primarily online, would have a sizeable task on their hands.

She said: "It's a big challenge to encourage young people to spend time reading and writing at a time when there are so many other things for them to do with their spare time."But we are going to be trying lots of different ways of engaging with them through mediums that teenagers use."What people tend to overlook is that young people are communicating with one another more than ever, via e-mails, text messaging and social networking websites."Fassl said booming sales of teen fiction franchises offered encouragement for the future.
She said: "Harry Potter is for slightly younger readers, but the Twilight books are making a huge impact."What I find absolutely amazing and very encouraging is that you are now seeing young people carrying the Twilight books as accessories – as well as reading them.

The four fantasy novels chronicle the life of Isabella "Bella" Swan, who moves to a new town and falls in love with a handsome vampire.Written by American Stephenie Meyer, they have sold more than 53 million copies around the world and spawned a Hollywood movie starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
The virtual writer, who must be resident in Scotland, will receive an annual stipend of £3,500 with additional fees of £150, plus travel expenses, for attending events.
It is understood that a number of well-known authors have thrown their quill into the ring.

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