Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

My research

with 2 comments

I undertook my thesis at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. I investigated the information habits of teenagers, including their recreational reading and internet use, and means of encouraging library use among teenagers, particularly through graphic novel collections in public and school libraries in Australia. I used a mixed methods approach which included focus groups with teenagers, a survey of public libraries, and interviews with public and teacher librarians.

My supervisors were Dr Maggie Exon from the Department of Information Studies (now retired) and Dr Helen Merrick from the Department of Internet Studies.

Research proposal

Teenagers have been found to be reluctant to read in their leisure time, the importance of recreational reading necessitates methods to encourage teenagers to read. One format that has been discussed as a possibility to engage teenagers in reading is the graphic novel.

The objective of this research is to investigate the inclusion of graphic novels in library collections and whether this format encourages teenagers to use libraries and read in their free time. Graphic novel collections in Australian public libraries were investigated through a survey of Australia-wide Young Peoples’ Services (YPS) librarians. Interviews with Western Australian public and school librarians provided further insight into their library’s graphic novel collections and the librarians’ perceptions of the graphic novel format and graphic novel use by teenagers. Teenagers’ views on public libraries, their levels of recreational reading and thoughts on the graphic novel format were determined through focus groups. The difficulties in finding teenagers to participate in the research was overcome by selecting participants from local high schools, accessible through the researcher’s network of contacts.


This thesis investigates the inclusion of graphic novels in library collections and whether the format encourages teenagers to use libraries and read in their free time. Graphic novels are bound paperback or hardcover works in comic-book form and cover the full range of fiction genres, manga (Japanese comics), and also nonfiction. Teenagers are believed to read less in their free time than their younger counterparts. The importance of recreational reading necessitates methods to encourage teenagers to enjoy reading and undertake the pastime. Graphic novels have been discussed as a popular format among teenagers. As with reading, library use among teenagers declines as they age from childhood. The combination of graphic novel collections in school and public libraries may be a solution to both these dilemmas.

Teenagers’ views were explored through focus groups to determine their attitudes toward reading, libraries and their use of libraries; their opinions on reading for school, including reading for English classes and gathering information for school assignments; and their liking for different reading materials, including graphic novels. Opinions on school reading can impact feelings on reading in general and thus influence views and amount of recreational reading.

A survey of public libraries determined the incidence of graphic novel collections throughout Australia and how collections are managed, with the intention of comparing libraries from different states and territories and metropolitan or rural areas. Interviews with selected librarians who collected graphic novels provided insight into their attitudes to the place of graphic novels in public and high school libraries and a more detailed picture of how the format is managed. This included use of graphic novel by the libraries’ teenage users or students and problems encountered, such as complaints about specific titles.

Graphic novel collections are widespread among surveyed Australian libraries, although a metropolitan location led to a greater likelihood of collection of graphic novels, and librarians were passionate about the format and its popularity among teenagers. The teenagers investigated were not as universally positive about graphic novels or libraries. The necessity of inclusion of all formats of reading matter in library collections will enable teenagers to discover for themselves what provides enjoyable reading experiences, so these become the norm, and lead to a greater enthusiasm for reading and more undertaken in their free time.


Written by ClareSnow

27 February 2008 at 6:33 am

2 Responses

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  1. I like your photos. You seem to love nature. Do you know that there is an WA Insect Study Group that meets every second month on the second Wednesday 7.30 pm at King’s Park. I think you would like it. It is a lot of fun.


    18 October 2009 at 10:34 pm

  2. […] the thought was there. Name as many individual teenagers who love reading as you like, research (including mine) shows the average person of any age prefers other pastimes. Which is fine, everyone loving the […]

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