BookTube and FanFiction by Katja Petrovic

At the end of June the Centre national du livre in Paris published a study of children and young people’s reading behaviour. The good news is that they read… and even write! On average, however, they spend 12 hours on the Internet. The Centre has all the materials you need to get inspired about BookTube and FanFiction.

“Salut. When you think about classical literature then this springs to mind instantly”. This is how ‘Bulledop’ introduces her latest video clip. In the next clip the 20-year-old BookTube presenter has tied back her unruly black curls and is waving about with a ruler, wearing a striped blouse with high collar. “Open your books at page 35, Emily, and read us out loud what it says…”, she instructs, intimating a teacher from the past century and quickly giving – next clip, a foolish reader a telling off. Back to her old self again, she introduces her Top 5 favourite classics.

Homer’s Odyssey, for example. The book cover and flap text are presented and ‘Bulledop’ commences, “So, that reminds me more of a poem, the style is – how should I put it – already rather complicated; you have to get into it. […] I had the feeling of hearing a song, truly amazing. I had so many images in mind like in a film, and then this voice that seems to be from a different era and narrates the story of Odyssey and his friends offstage. If you’re intimidated by the style, try to begin with abridged versions of this work! You have to gradually adjust to the classics because you shouldn’t get fed up immediately, but instead explore this universe and learn where all these myths come from.”

The entertaining chatterbox has over 22,000 followers; she is so successful that she gives BookTube beginners tips on making a successful video. The most important tip is, “Be natural, don’t try to be more devious than you are and have fun!”
All that you need to make the film is a Smartphone and you don’t necessarily need to stand in front of a wall of books.

But that’s all pure understatement because the videos from the BookTubers are surprisingly professional. There is plenty of ambition and critics tradition behind it! Significantly, almost all presenters make the videos in front of packed book shelves with a polite mention of the publisher of their favourite book. But they keep it informal, self-ironic and creative. It’s clear why many children and young people prefer to learn reading tips from young people than from parents, teachers or bookstores.

According to an Ipsos survey, two-thirds of youngsters interviewed read between 2.5 and 3 hours a week. 33% of girls and 22% of boys read every day, preferably novels and comics. Anne Frank’s Diary counts among the most popular books and, in France, Harry Potter is and remains the undisputed darling of young readers.

Many young people even write about FanFiction. They develop stories based on well-known themes from television series, video games or mangas. The days are over when pictures of stars and heroes appeared in a static position above the bed. Today their fans carry on telling the stories, adding bits or writing entirely new sections. “It’s a niche with enough potential for publishers to develop a separate market out of it”, according to Vincent Monadé, the Centre national du livre-President, who makes every possible effort to understand the young generation of readers and encourages them to take a more active interest in books in future.

By Katja Petrovic

This blog was originally published on ELit Literature House Europe website on 22 July 2016.

Category: ELit Literature House Europe Observatory

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