Literacy Lab

Literacy Lab

Collaborative research practices, to understand and improve children and young people's literacy experiences and outcomes

The Young People’s Reading Project


Reading for pleasure is important for social, emotional and academic development. It helps us relax, learn new things and explore our emotions. However, research has shown that motivation to read often declines during the teenage years. While some research has investigated why this might be the case, very few projects centre young people’s voices when trying to understand their reading experiences and find ways to support them to (re)discover a love of reading.


In order to put young peoples’ voices at the heart of the research, we worked with the Young People’s Advisory Panel to design, plan and carry out the project. The panel is made up of 6 secondary school pupils from across Scotland. Together with researchers from the University of Edinburgh, and with Scottish Book Trust, we interviewed over 50 young people (13 – 15 years old) about their reading experiences. By finding out what helps young people feel more motivated to read for pleasure, we can work out the best ways to support others to find and maintain a love of reading.


The panel met 6 times between November 2021 and July 2022, working together to plan the project, carry out interviews with their classmates and interpret the findings. They have been coming up with practical ideas for helping other young people to read more books in their free time and we are now working with Scottish Book Trust on putting those ideas into action.


Teachers interested in motivating teenagers to read can access a quick guide on how to promote reading for pleasure in school, which has been informed by our research so far.


If you are interested in more in-depth insights into programmes and interventions to promote reading motivation during adolescence, you can read a preprint of a narrative review which summarises different approaches, including book clubs, whole-school approaches, technology-supported interventions, performance and theatre and reading/literacy skills interventions.


If you are interested in how we worked with the Young People’s Advisory Panel, you can read a preregistration for Phase 1 of the project. If you are interested in how we carried out the interviews, you can read a preregistration for Phase 2 of the project.


You can also learn more about this project through our BERA Special Issue blogpost:


In addition to a classroom-friendly poster about our findings so far which is free to access.


This project is funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and Scottish Book Trust. To learn more you can visit the project website or contact Charlotte Webber on


Project Team:

PhD Researcher: Charlotte Webber, University of Edinburgh

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

First Supervisor: Dr Sarah McGeown, University of Edinburgh
Second Supervisor: Dr Lynne Duncan, University of Dundee
External Partner Supervisor: Katherine Wilkinson (Scottish Book Trust)


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



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