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Vampires win in playground

A poll this week concluded that half of children between the ages of nine and 14 don't read fiction. There's not really much you can add to that statistic to make it any brighter, and the fact that a third don't read any books at all makes it even more depressing for the publishing industry and particularly depressing for the future of the human race.

Magazines are the reading material of choice for the bulk of today's kids (72pc), presumably because they are now just full of pictures, with 'virtual reading' -- websites, blogs, social networking sites -- which isn't really reading at all, becoming more widespread.


The results of the poll from Britain's National Literacy Trust (we all know that British youth is doomed anyway and the same figures would never apply here) do seem verified by a glance at the bestseller list for general fiction this week, with only Stephanie Meyer, who has had her fangs in the book charts for eternity anyway, the only author in the top 25 being read by children.

A look at the children's bestseller list for fiction is even more likely to raise the hairs on the back of the neck. The top 10 comprises no less than seven vampire books, with Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan occupying the remaining three top 10 places on the back of the new movie, The Lightning Thief.

While I'm no psychologist, there is a worrying trend here, which suggests that kids no longer live in the real world, but would rather the one inhabited by demons, ghouls, blood-lust fiends, zombies and of course, the hoodies, let's not forget them.

One possible way to lure children back towards books is to eliminate the visual element altogether, as the internet and movie tie-ins seem to be doing the damage, and introduce the audio book into the home.

My parents used to play my favourite at bedtime, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and I've turned out okay.

And in the top 10 of audio books this week are, oh dear, Fang by James Patterson, Fallen by Lauren Kate, Dark Angel by JL Smith. Well, the Magic Roundabout and Camberwick Green have just been released by the Beeb on audio.

Any takers, kids?