The TEEN READING AND DIGITAL PRACTICES research Programme
A Digital Era
In the new age of digital connection and platformed publishing young readers find a whole ecosystem online to source, consume and interact with literary and non-literary texts.
Young people are not only consumers, but also producers. They use of a range of digital practices for reading, learning, and the creation of bookish social identities.
About Our Projects
The Teen Reading research program at Deakin investigates young people’s reading preferences and practices. Our research studies the digital and physical ecologies of reading that connect not only young people, but also the creative professionals such as teachers, librarians, publishers, booksellers and authors, who work with them. Researchers collaborate with industry and education stakeholders to identify strategies to promote reading for pleasure
We are committed to working with stakeholders to increase young people’s access to the books they want to read and to engage teens with the benefits of reading for pleasure.
We also seek to work with the Australian book industry to better know its young adult readers and to inform production of a range of diverse texts for leisure reading.
We bring an applied focus to research on real world problems experienced by young people and the professionals who support their recreational reading. We are passionate about working with stakeholders to promote the social benefits that flow from increased engagement of teens with reading for pleasure
Our work is interdisciplinary, mobilising a range of methods from literature, cultural studies, sociology, digital humanities and data visualisation.
The digital informs all aspects of reading culture. We use a range of digital research methods to map platforms and access, but also to focus on teens’ practices of reading, learning, and the creation of bookish social identities.
Our projects use a variety of mixed methods to investigate reader preferences and to map the geographies of access and informed advice that shape young Australian’s discovery of ‘good reads’ for leisure reading.
Our scholars work with a wide variety of industry and government partners to explore new ways to promote young people’s access to and engagement with reading, writing, and creative production.
Meet Our Team
A team with a wide range of experience
Our team brings different disciplinary backgrounds to our ongoing research program, including research into children’s and young adult media and literature, education and arts, sociology, media studies, publishing studies and cultural policy. Our wide-ranging experience is designed to ensure that the research is useful to stakeholders working in a range of sectors, including education, media and telecommunications, libraries and the cultural sector.
Associate Professor (Project Leader)
Leonie Rutherford (PhD, ANU) is a an Associate Professor of Literature and Writing at Deakin University. Her research focuses on a broad range of media with a special focus on young people. She currently leads the Teenagers Reading and Digital Practices Research Projects group in the Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University. She has previously researched media practices of children and youth, television studies, multiplatform production, audience research, media policy, and, as a member of interdisciplinary teams researching impacts of media on children’s digital literacy, health, and educational outcomes.
Katya Johanson (PhD, Uni Melbourne) is Professor of Audience Research and a cultural policy researcher with a professional background and interest in publishing. She is currently co-editing a Routledge Companion to Audience Research and the Performing Arts (2021), and is co-editor (with Jennifer Radbourne and Hilary Glow) of The Audience Experience: A critical analysis of audiences in the performing arts (2013). She also researches in partnership with government cultural policy and funding agencies, including the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, VicHealth and local councils. Professor Johanson is on the editorial board of Cultural Trends, and is a member of the Geelong Arts Centre Trust Board.
Andrew Singleton (PhD, Monash) is Professor of Sociology and Social Research in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Deakin University, Australia. His research interests include teenagers, survey methods, sampling, religious change, youth religion, personal belief, and alternative religions. Singleton has published extensively in these areas both nationally and internationally. He is the author of Religion, Culture and Society: A Global Approach, co-author (with Anna Halafoff, Mary Lou Rasmussen and Gary Bouma) of Freedoms, Faiths and Futures: Teenage Australians on Religion, Sexuality, and Diversity, and co-author (with Michael Mason and Ruth Webber) of The Spirit of Generation Y: Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia.
Michael Dezuanni is a Professor in the School of Communication at Queensland University of Technology. He undertakes research about digital media, literacies and learning in home, school and community contexts. He is Program Leader for Digital Inclusion and Participation in the Digital Media Research Centre which produces world-leading research for a creative, inclusive and fair digital media environment. He is also a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child. Michael has been a chief investigator on six ARC Linkage projects with a focus on digital literacy and learning at school, the use of digital games in the classroom, digital inclusion in regional and rural Australia and in low income families, and the use of screen content in formal and informal learning.
Donald Matheson is a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at University of Canterbury. He is an internationally renowned expert in discourse analysis with extensive experience in research across academic-industry boundaries. He is co-director of the Arts Digital Lab at the University of Canterbury, which works with a range of end users.
Susan La Marca
Dr Susan La Marca is a consultant in the areas of children’s and young adult literature and school libraries and currently the Executive Officer of the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) and the editor of their journal Synergy. She is an adjunct lecturer in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University and is the Regional Director for Oceania of the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL).
Her PhD thesis analysed the factors that contribute to the creation of a reading environment in secondary school libraries.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Bronwyn Reddan (PhD, University of Melbourne) is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. Her research examines the social and emotional dimensions of literary culture, with a particular interest in women’s writing, strategies of authorship and translation, and bookish social media cultures. She is the author of Love, Power, and Gender in Seventeenth-Century French Fairy Tales (University of Nebraska Press, 2020).
Anne-Marie May has a background that includes librarian work in academic and public libraries, as well as ten years in the retail book trade industry. Her longstanding interests include reading for pleasure, reader advisory practices, and collection development. Her PhD project is focussed on the role that booksellers and librarians play in promoting recreational reading for adolescents. Using a case study of an inner Melbourne network of school libraries, public libraries and bookstores the research will explore the ways these intermediaries interact and work to connect young people to local stories and book culture.
Amy has a Masters of Arts degree in Children’s Literature (Macquarie 2009), and has previously worked as a Librarian. She has worked on a number of children’s literature projects at QUT including for the Children & Youth Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology where she supported the ARC LIEF funded Asian-Australian children’s literature project through AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource, and children’s book awards in Australia.
Her PhD project focusses on mapping the digital ecology of young adult fiction through the online consumption practices of teenage readers.
Thanks to our partners for their involvement and support with this initiative.
What Our Collaborators Say
We know that encouraging children and teenagers to become lifelong readers can positively impact their long-term success in life. But how can we, as publishers, provide teenagers with the books they most want to read? The Teen Reading in the Digital Age study will fill a crucial need for empirical, unbiased and rigorous research into the reading behaviour of Australian teens. The results from this research will be invaluable in helping Australian children’s publishers target the books we publish to better meet what teenagers really want to read – not just what the adults around them think they want.
– Eva Mills, Co-Chair, Children’s Publishers Committee, Australian Publishers Association
The work of the Teen Reading Project fills a significant knowledge gap about the reading habits of young Australians and the broader ecosystem in which they find the books they read.
– Alice Boer-Endacott, Secretary of #LoveOzYA
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