Saturday, 25 February 2017

Geting on in the world, literacy and stuff!

You have to hand it to media-savvy young people; they do seem to know how to make money out of odd stuff. Take Zoe Elizabeth Sugg who will be 27 next Tuesday and seemingly earns £50,000 a month (yes, per month, NOT per year) from what are called her "lifestyle channels". Apparently she started blogging in 2009, talking about important stuff like make-up. It quickly turned into a vlog and within a year it had a thousand followers and by september 2015 it had received more than 540 million visits. She is surrounded by like-minded young people, having a sibling who vlogs and being in a relationship with a young man who vlogs.

And Zoella, as she is called professionally, appears to have made a successful career out of putting inconsequential stuff out there. What's more it is appreciated by some of the powers that be. In 2013 she was named as one of the ambassadors for National Citizen Service, a British voluntary personal and social development programme for 15–17 year olds in England and Northern Ireland, funded largely by government money. And then in 2014 she became the first "digital ambassador" for Mind, the mental health charity.

She has even written a book, "Girl Online". (There seem to have been a lot of books lately with titles that begin with "Girl...") Released in November 2014, Zoella's book broke the record for highest first-week sales of a first-time novelist since Neilsen Bookscan began compiling such records in 1998. So, a great success then! But not everyone is totally impressed with her writing. Indeed, she has been blamed for the declining teenage literacy rate.

I'm pretty sure she cannot be held single-handedly responsible for such a decline. After all, stick-in-the-muds like me have been going for ages about texting, and I suppose now also tweeting, doing horrible things to spelling, punctuation and grammar. Just a minute, isn't that SPAG, one of the things they check up on in SATs?

I haven't read anything written by Ms Sugg, or listened to anything she says for that matter. So I shall try very hard not to condemn her out of hand. Here's a link to an article about her.

And here is a very short excerpt from that article, just in case you din't get around tomreading it all:

"Her delight in the inconsequential is perversely infectious; there’s something rather relaxing about the company of a person who will say out loud anything that pops into their head. But the depth of her fascination with herself is also rather alienating. It can’t be right, can it? Looking through your own photo album, fondly critiquing your own face?"

I find myself in some sympathy with the questions at the end there.

However, not all is lost in the world of fluff and fashion. I have read that Teen Vogue is turning into the go-to magazine for young people who want to know about political comment. Will Teen Vogue be the next publication to have its journalists banned from the press briefings at the Whitehouse, along with the BBC, CNN and the New York Times? Watch this space.

Getting back to literacy and encouraging reading and so on, alphabet books are often used to encourage children to begin to read. Here's a link to a quite horrible alphabet book. So horrible that I love it. But really  not the sort of thing you want to buy for your grandchildren!

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