Tempting Teens Back to Books in Facebook Era; A Young Person's Laureate Will Be Introduced by Literature Wales Next Month in a Bid to Get More Teenagers Reading. Karen Price Wonders How He or She Will Succeed in an Age When Social Networking and Computer Games Are a Priority
* K ROWLING and Stephenie Meyer have both been instrumental in encouraging young readers to pick up books.
But with so many other distractions in this computer age, including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, will the likes of Harry Potter and the Twilight saga be enough to maintain their interest? Literature Wales is about to appoint the first Young Person's Laureate whose task will be to promote reading among teenagers.
And the organisation will look at new ways of encouraging them to discover a love of words.
Although Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson was appointed Children's Laureate for the UK in June, the Young Person's Laureate will be a brand new post based in Wales.
"We need to celebrate excellence in children's books, whether they are books for teenagers or picture books," says Lleucu Siencyn, acting chief executive of Literature Wales.
"But there have been lots of discussions among politicians about the literacy levels in Wales being among the worst in Europe and it's a fact that teenagers, particularly boys, don't read any more.
"Young people are constantly on Facebook or playing computer games and it's our responsibility to encourage a love of literature and reading rather than pointing the blame. So we need to look at what we can do to turn them on to literature."
Siencyn says that the Young Person's Laureate will aim to get the message across that literature isn't just about dusty 18th century novels.
Reading reviews of sporting events or new albums from musicians - two things which appeal to many teenagers - are just as important.
During recent years, thanks to Rowling's tales of the schoolboy wizard and Meyer's stories of angsty teen vampires - both of which have been turned into film franchises - fantasy fiction has become hugely popular.
"The genre is on the rise and it particularly targets teenagers," says Siencyn.
She now hopes that the first Young Person's Laureate will combine new technology and fantasy fiction in a way of reaching out to those teenagers who do not class reading as a favourite pastime.
"We have to be realistic - a lot of young people won't think of picking up books themselves. But it helps now that we have Kindles and iBooks which brings books to the computer generation."
Siencyn says that a recent report by the Arts Council of Wales about participation in the arts revealed that creative writing was the second most popular activity after listening to music.
But organised readings were considered "uncool".
"The main job of the Young Person's Laureate will be targeting schools and youth groups in Wales which are currently not receiving many visiting authors," Siencyn says.
"Hopefully it will get young people reading as well as doing some writing themselves.
"We want to take advantage of the fact that creative writing is the second most commonly participated in activity and, after all, children using Facebook are writing as they project themselves online. …