Teenage reading

Young People’s Reading Project: Understanding the Teenage Reading Experience

Reading for pleasure is important for academic, social and emotional development. It helps us relax, learn new things and explore our emotions. However, research has shown that motivation to read books declines during the teenage years. Working collaboratively with the Scottish Book Trust, we are seeking to understand the reasons for this drop-off and hope to use insights from young people themselves to help structure the project.

Lots of research in this area uses statistics and questionnaires to try to understand why young people seem less inclined to read than adults and younger children. However, in order to truly understand young people’s perspectives on reading we need to capture their voices and let them be at the heart of how research about them is carried out. Therefore, an essential part of the project is our Young People’s Advisory Panel, who are helping us make decisions about how best to research young people’s reading experiences. The panel – which is made up of 6 wonderful secondary school students from across Scotland – helped us design the project and formulate questions to ask other young people in interviews about their reading motivation. Some of the panel members trained as interviewers and interviewed their classmates, while other interviews were carried out by the project lead. Through these interviews we are hoping to gain a greater understanding of the barriers to reading during the teenage years from the perspectives of young people themselves. We also hope to understand more about the benefits of reading and the factors that influence what, when and how young people choose to read and have been discussing our findings altogether. With these perspectives, we are developing tools for young people, parents and teachers that will support them in finding and sustaining a love of reading.

Project Lead: Charlotte Webber (PhD student, University of Edinburgh)

Young People’s Advisory Panel*: Teagan, Harry, Hannah, Sofia, Emily and Ruth

Academic members of the Research Team: Dr Sarah McGeown (University of Edinburgh), Katherine Wilkinson (Scottish Book Trust) & Dr Lynne Duncan (University of Dundee)

With thanks to the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Scottish Book Trust for funding this research.

For more information about this project, please contact Charlotte Webber on c.webber-1@sms.ed.ac.uk

*some names may be pseudonyms, as requested by panel members