Teen Reading project – do you know what Australian teens read?

If you find it difficult to answer this question, you are not alone. As A.B Endacott writing for #LoveOZYA observes, estimates about the readership of Young Adult (YA) books suggests that as many as 70% of YA readers are adults. If Australian teens are not reading YA, then what are they reading?

This is one of the questions driving the Cultural Pathways Linkage Project. Our research examines the following key themes:

  • the influence of sociocultural contexts of teenagers’ everyday lives on their reading lives;
  • the digital ecology of reading; and
  • the role of cultural intermediaries ranging from expert professionals to new digital intermediaries.
Our initial findings

In 2020 and 2021, we conducted 32 interviews with professionals working in the book industry: publishers, booksellers, authors, literary agents, marketing and sales representatives. We learnt a lot about the structural barriers to getting good books into the hands of Australian teenagers. Several interviewees identified the demise of the Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) as a significant loss. Australian booksellers and publishers alike feel the absence of a non-partisan information sharing forum connecting the different parts of the teen reading ecosystem.

We also found that Australian publishers and booksellers are dedicated to creating and providing access to books teenagers will want to read, but struggle with a lack of feedback about how books are received by teen readers. In many cases, this is due to limited contact with actual or potential readers as the majority of books that end up in the hands of teen readers are selected by adults (parents, teachers, and librarians). Much of the thinking about what teens want to read is shaped by popular culture and anecdotal accounts of teen readers. Our project aims to change this by asking Australian teens about their reading habits and preferences.

Next stepsThe next phase of our research is a national survey of Australian secondary school students. This survey will be conducted in government, Catholic, and independent schools in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia in 2022.

Stay tuned for an account of what they tell us and get in touch if you would like to get in touch if you would like to register interest in your school participating in our research. Click on graphic or here: WLC CL Post 2_School recruitment flyer.