Further West again

On Tuesday we visited our second Victorian school, this time in a rural district heading towards the South Australian border. This area lies in a lush, dairy farming area, and consequently, hard hit by the general difficulties facing that sector. The image above shows one of the Avenues of Remembrance that grace a number of small towns in this scenic area.

The school was one of Deakin’s Engagement and Access Program partner schools (DEAP). The aim of the DEAP program is to work with schools to build on students’ aspirations to generate awareness of the potential of a tertiary education for young people who might not previously have considered this. Place matters on many fronts, not least the distribution of school’s equity funding. While in other locations, closer to large regional or metropolitan centres, we’ve heard students recount their pleasure in visiting bricks and mortar bookstores, many young people in more remote areas might find that they are more likely to encounter paper books in large ‘marts’, as part of the family’s weekly shopping visit.

 

Victorian Fieldwork Underway

Our data collection in Victoria started with a visit to the chilly but wonderful Western Region. Obviously, for ethics reasons, we can’t identify the town or school, so the bucolic image of dam and rolling hills is my attempt to capture the feel of the day.

western-region-dam

Many country schools service large regions, with hundreds of children coming in by bus every day from surrounding towns. The staff were very welcoming, and it’s wonderful to see the effect that passionate teachers can have, despite limited funds for literacy and other extension activities. The teens we talked to described some of the resources they use to find information about available reading material, including local bookshops and libraries, and even, in the case of one young man, a visit to a regional book event – though he wasn’t too sure whether it was going to change his established tastes.

WA Metropolitan Fieldwork Complete

During July and early August, Dr Margaret Merga from Murdoch University has been visiting schools in the Perth Metropolitan area, battling dodgy internet connections, traffic and, in the case of the last school, soldiering on despite a debilitating virus. The kids and teachers have all been fantastic to work with, she reports. What the team is are finding so far is that teenagers are far from heterogeneous in their reading tastes, and that social media applications can be useful for sourcing stories that adolescents want to read.

About the teen reading project

Welcome to the teen reading blog. Here, our research team shares with interested stakeholders information about our research into teen reading practices as it unfolds.

Little is known about how digital media devices are shaping Australian teenagers’ reading culture. The teen reading research project gathers and analyses current data on Australian teenagers’ use of digital and print platforms for recreational reading across a range of places and contexts. In 2016, our team  is surveying 600 13-16 year olds in two states (WA and Victoria) to find out about what, how and where they read, with whom and how they discuss what they read and what influences their reading for pleasure.

The survey investigates how ‘books’ are sourced and explores the geographic,
economic and cultural factors that constrain teenagers’ reading choices. The project is designed to be of benefit to educators, librarians, publishers, youth programmers and other book industry practitioners.