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Writing for children

di Lorenza Biava notizia del 9 marzo 2012

The world surrounding children has changed profoundly over the last 30 years. Cartoons, cinema and television have accustomed today's children to fast and dynamic consumption of culture and also made them more demanding with regard to what they read.
As he or she approaches three years of age, a child is able to take in fairy tales. Mummy reads aloud and the child learns to read the images. If a child likes a particular story, the mother will try to find a DVD. So the child then sees a cartoon of the tale he/she has read on the page and heard aloud. What happens in just one minute of the cartoon would require four to five minutes if it were played out on a stage and even longer if it were read from the page of a book. Children thus become accustomed to fast narrative and when they begin to read they expect the same emotions and the same timespan for action and emotion as they are used to.
For 50 years, generations of Italian boys grew up reading Salgari or The Three Musketeers, and generations of girls identified with the protagonists of Little Women. But which child reads them today? Even Pippi Longstocking, which broke through the long-established barriers of the genre when it appeared in 1945, is now a «slow» text.
But pace is not the only element which distinguishes today's books from yesterday's. The ability of the author to «catch» the tastes and needs of young readers has become increasingly important. As evidence of this I can think of two striking successes in terms of bookshop sales: the Geronimo Stilton books (Piemme) and Il diario di una schiappa (Il Castoro). The former is a series which answers the need for ease and speed in reading thanks to a page which is not exclusively typographical and which helps the approach to the written text. In the latter case what the book has been able to capture is the complex state of feelings which distinguishes pre-adolescence, a delicate phase which, because it is handled in the right way, has stimulated the interest of a large audience.
What is needed is not more stories but new ways to write stories. Or, rather, new narrative ideas are needed but the important thing is to tell them in a different way. I will try to explain myself better: nobody imagined that science fiction could exist before it was invented but nowadays the genre is no longer written in the Jules Verne manner.
Tablet computers, smartphones, e-readers - I don't think that new technologies will change the way of writing for children. It will probably change the object, the book, but this will not necessarily mean a different way of writing. Instead there will be a change in the way of reading but, over the course of the centuries, this has already undergone more changes than those that the book itself has had to confront.

L'autore: Lorenza Biava

Volevo fare l'astronauta, poi il dottore, ma un giorno di settembre ho iniziato a scrivere e la passione è diventata professione. Dalla cronaca di una città di provincia agli ultimi trend del mercato editoriale internazionale ho scritto e interpretato ben più di 50 sfumature di inchiostro (e di pixel!). Sono nerd per vocazione, amante delle serie TV e dei super eroi.

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