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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



Project background:

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.

* Read ‘Connecting With Fictional Characters: The Power of Books’ to learn more about the effects of reading fiction on our brains *


Project summary:

As part of a collaborative project with Scottish Book Trust, we worked with a Young People’s Advisory Panel – made up of 6 secondary school pupils (13-14 years old) from across Scotland – to design, plan and carry out the research. Together we interviewed over 50 young people (13-15 years old) about what helps them feel more (and less) motivated to read for pleasure. We are now working with Scottish Book Trust to develop several pilot projects based on the research findings, which we hope will support more young people to read for pleasure. 


The Young People’s Advisory Panel:

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. 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 or an open-access version of our paper Working with a young people’s advisory panel to conduct educational research: Young people’s perspectives and researcher reflections.


Project outcomes:


At Scottish Book Trust, we are also working on projects which are exploring the role of high school librarians in supporting adolescent reading.


Publications related to this project:

Webber, C., Wilkinson, K., Duncan, L., & McGeown, S. (2024). Working with a young people’s advisory panel to conduct educational research: Young people’s perspectives and researcher reflections. International Journal of Educational Research, 124. 

Webber, C., Wilkinson, K., Duncan, L., & McGeown, S. (2023). Approaches for supporting adolescents’ reading motivation: existing research and future priorities. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 8, p. 1254048). Frontiers Media SA.

Webber, C., Wilkinson, K., Duncan, L. G., & McGeown, S. (2023). Adolescents’ perspectives on the barriers to reading for pleasure. Literacy, e12359.



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 Ava

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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