Schoolchildren at the 11th edition of the annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) at the Expo Centre Sharjah. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: After invading the minds of millions on the internet, social media influencers are capturing the attention of young readers through their stories as books by YouTube stars are trending at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) 2019.

From pranksters and vloggers to virtual tricksters, tech geeks and gamers, YouTube personalities and influencers are to millennials what Hollywood superstars are to older generations. So, it’s no wonder school students and young adults just can’t have enough of watching and interacting with their digital heroes.

And it’s only logical that they want to read their stories and buy their books.

Chayan Selvey Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“Reading habits and preferences are changing with the changing digital landscape, virtual world is influencing the children in their choice of books as well. Most teenagers these days are rushing to buy books by YouTubers, we are having a brisk sale of books by young YouTube sensations such as Caspar Lee and Colin Furze,” said Anil Varghese, Purchase Manager at DC Books, one of the biggest exhibitors at SCRF.

A British South African YouTube personality with more than 7.5 million followers on YouTube, Caspar Lee’s eponymous book tracing his life story has sold thousands of copies worldwide and is among the best-sellers here as well.

Fatima Zohra Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Doing equally well with young readers is another Brit with almost 8 million followers on YouTube, who has come up with This Book Isn’t Safe, a guide to his quirky inventions that he shares in his viral videos.

“I think children are more fascinated about what they see daily, they like to read something that they can visualise or stories that really inspire them. Apart from comics and superheroes, children like to read stories about those who influence them every day, such as social media influencers,” said Siddharth Natrajan, a schoolteacher who accompanied his students at SCRF on Sunday.

Better informed as they are than their previous generations, children these days seem very clear in what books they want to buy and what they want to read.

“I am here to buy books about gaming for my reference because I am a gaming enthusiast,” said Aditya Narain, a 10 year old, who seemed pretty clear about his choices.

Fatima Hoor Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Though, the new generation is clearly not fascinated by the classics they still like to read some fiction.

Roald Dhal remains among the most popular authors, while Diary of the Wimpy Kid seems to have eclipsed the Harry Potter series, though only barely, with JK Rowling still having a spell over young minds.

Eleven-year-old Fatima Hoor likes to read diaries and adventure books with Wimpy Kids series being her favourite.

“Books help me switch off when I am stressed sometimes, particularly adventure books and stuff like Diary of the Wimpy Kid, it’s great fun and I also learn a lot from these books,” said Hoor, who is a grade six student.

Her namesake schoolmate Fatima Zohra likes to read fantasy books but only reads when finds leisure time.

Adithya Narayan Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“With daily school work it’s hard to find time to read, but whenever there is some leisure time I make sure to pick a book and read. I like to read fantasies, my favourite is Sleeping Beauty, but I also like other fiction,” said Zohra, who is a grade seven student.

Chayan Jude Selvey likes to read books with illustrations, so naturally Diary of the Wimpy Kid is among is his favourites and he also likes the recently released Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, by the same creator, which is offering a strong challenge to Diary of the Wimpy Kid is the recently released series by its creator.

“I like thinks that I can visualise and also those stories that can help me in real life situation, I think Wimpy Kids and books by Roald Dhal do that,” said Selvey, a grade seven student.

Glued as they are to the screens mostly, getting children to read has become struggle for many parents and educators, but with the changing trends of the Children’s publishing world the attitude towards reading seems to be changing. But, whether the change is good or bad only time will tell.

Trending books

• Diary of a Wimpy Kid
• Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid
• Roald Dahl series

Young Adults
• To All the Boys I Have Loved Before — by Jenny Han
• Magnus Chase — by Rick Riordan
• Harry Potter series

• Casper Lee — by Casper Lee and Emily Riordan Lee
• This Book Isn’t Safe — by Colin Furze
• Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be — by Gemma Cairney