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Take that first step towards becoming a published author

This year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival wants to turn young readers into young writers.

This year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival wants to turn young readers into young writers.

This year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival wants to turn young readers into young writers.

There have been occasional writing workshops for young people in the past, explains children and education programme director Sara Grady. But, for the first time, the main festival includes a series of events for older children and teenagers that could be the first step towards becoming a published author.

The Australian phenomenon of "zines" - homemade publications that lie somewhere between literary magazine and fanzines - will be explored by cult author Simmone Howell, who wants everyone to bring along their own photos, poems and magazine clippings (August 24).

William Nicholson (August 25), whose screenplay for Gladiator won an Oscar, and fantasy writer Isobelle Carmody (August 20) promise to reveal how they weave compelling narratives.

Among the other workshops, illustrator Garen Ewing is signed up to talk about adventure comics (August 23) and former Marvel Comics author Glenn Dakin will explore similar territory (August 22).

Big names include Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, fantasy writer Garth Nix, former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, Tracey Beaker creator Jacqueline Wilson, Booker Prize-winner Roddy Doyle, and Germany's answer to JK Rowling, Cornelia Funke.

There will be a spotlight on classic children's characters such as the Moomins, Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh, to which author David Benedictus has written a sequel. But children will also be shown that they could derive just as much pleasure from the dictionary (August 21).

As in the adult programme, some weighty issues are to be explored.

Jason Bradbury, "one of the world's most influential Twitterati", and "blogger extraordinaire" Mariann Hardy will ask what Facebook and Twitter mean for friendship (August 15).

Philosopher Stephen Law wants his audience to ask some "really big questions" (August 29). Perhaps "Is time travel possible?" or "Could robots think?" His thought experiments will begin to provide answers.

The book festival is education as many would want it: a place of boundless discovery where children are champing at the bit to learn. One event in the adult programme, however, may bring a dose of harsh reality to the urban idyll of Charlotte Square Gardens.

Oenone Crossley-Holland (August 28) has written about enrolling on the controversial Teach First scheme, which parachutes talented graduates into some of England's toughest schools after a few weeks of training. She met a man who quit teaching to join the army because it would be an easier job - and discovered he might have been right.

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk.

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