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Research at Scottish Book Trust
Our aim is to empower everyone in Scotland to reach their true potential through reading and writing. Find out about our current research projects, and how we use research to improve our work as a charity
Research is at the heart of our work at Scottish Book Trust. Whether it's understanding the impact of book gifting on children and families, investigating why drop-off in reading motivation happens in our teenage years, or learning how books and reading can help people living with dementia. Research drives our programmes, informs new ideas and helps us to evaluate and improve our existing work.
The work of our Research and Evaluation team includes:
- Using new research around the benefits of reading and writing to improve our programmes.
- Assessing the impact of our programmes through both independent and in-house evaluations.
- Leading and contributing to research projects, both in-house and in collaboration with partners.
Current research projects
Discover the research projects we're currently working on.
Tackling the drop off: understanding the teenage reading experience
Tackling the drop off is a PhD project led by Charlotte Webber. It seeks to understand the reasons for the drop-off in reading motivation that occurs during the teenage years using insights from young people themselves. The project is a collaboration between Scottish Book Trust and the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, funded by SGSSS.
Love to Read
Love to Read is a UK-wide research project which involves interviewing children aged 9–11 to understand, from their perspectives, how to inspire and sustain book reading, and then using this knowledge to co-design and evaluate an intervention.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Royal Holloway, University of London, Aston University, Scottish Book Trust, Education Scotland and the National Literacy Trust, as well as an Expert Advisory Panel drawn from research, policy and practice in Scotland and England. The project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. You can find out more on the University of Edinburgh website.
Reading and Wellbeing
Reading and Wellbeing is a UK-wide research project exploring how reading fiction can support our wellbeing. Interviews with children (aged 9–11), young people (aged 15–17), adults (aged 30–45) and older adults (aged 65+) will explore readers' perceptions of whether, in what instances, and how, narrative fiction contributes to their wellbeing, focusing specifically on positive affect, feelings of connectedness and personal growth.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, University College London, Scottish Book Trust, Education Scotland and the National Literacy Trust. The project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
You can find out more about ReadWell on the University of Edinburgh website
Neurodiversity and narrative fiction
This research aims to understand the scale and breadth of representation of neurodivergent young people in fictional texts and will be the first study to provide detailed insight into neurodivergent young people's perceptions of how their lives and experiences are represented in books and stories.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Book Trust, the National Literacy Trust and BookTrust, working alongside publishers Barrington Stoke, teachers and authors. The project is funded by University of Edinburgh Challenge Investment Fund.
You can find out more about Neurodiversity and narrative fiction on the University of Edinburgh website
Find out more and read reports on our previous research projects.
Reading in Scotland: reading over lockdown
During the early stages of the pandemic, Scottish Book Trust set out to discover what impact the lockdown was having on readers in Scotland. We recruited a panel of people living in Scotland to complete regular surveys about their experiences of reading between March and August 2020. Over the weeks we built up a picture of Scotland's reading habits under lockdown and investigated how reading influenced wellbeing and relationships.
You can read the full Reading in Scotland: reading over lockdown report and a series of short articles on the research.
Growing up a reader
Growing up a Reader is a project that aims to understand what it means to be a young reader in the 21st century. The project involves training primary and secondary school pupils to interview their peers about what they read, why, and what reading means to them to help us find out what it means to be a reader from young people's perspectives.
The project is a collaboration between Scottish Book Trust, the University of Edinburgh and the Museum of Childhood, funded by a Challenge Investment Fund grant from the University of Edinburgh. You can find out more on the Growing up a Reader website.
Women of Words: gender equality in contemporary Scottish writing and publishing
Women of Words was a PhD project led by Christina Neuwirth examining systemic issues relating to the production, reception and consumption of women’s writing in Scotland. The project was a collaboration between Scottish Book Trust and the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow, funded by SGSAH.
The impact of book gifting in Scotland
Scottish Book Trust run two universal book gifting programmes – Bookbug and Read, Write, Count. Between the two programmes, every child in Scotland receives six bags of books and other resources between birth and age eight.
Bookbug has been gifting bags since 2010 and Read, Write, Count since 2016. The impact of book gifting in Scotland research project explored the impact of the gifting programmes on the children and their families over the last 11 years.
Raising the profile of authors of colour in the classroom
Raising the profile of authors of colour in the classroom was a research project led by Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold focused on the impact of school residencies led by authors of colour. The project involved two Live Literature school residencies alongside a mentoring programme for two emerging authors of colour.
The project was a collaboration between Scottish Book Trust and the University of Glasgow, funded by the University of Glasgow.
Reading in Scotland: my life as a reader
There are many types of reader in Scotland. There are those that were encouraged to read as a child, and those that came to it later. Some are regular visitors to a beloved local library or bookshop, whilst others swap books with friends or listen to audio books on the go. From crime to classics, via graphic novels, non-fiction, romance and everything in between, we knew that readers in Scotland are as varied as the country itself.
To find out more, we asked a panel of readers about what they read, why they read and the role reading has played at different stages of their lives – their many lives as a reader.
Read the full Reading in Scotland: My life as a reader report
We are currently members of the following networks.
We are part of the LALco (Language and Literacy: Communication, collaboration, co-production) network, a multidisciplinary network that aims to connect a broad range of stakeholders from research and practice (teachers, early years' professionals, researchers, parents, policymakers, key third-sector organisations and librarians) to support the language and literacy skills that are key to the attainment and wellbeing of children and young people here in Scotland, and elsewhere.
You can find out more on the LALco website.
We are part of the EURead international research network; you can find out more on the EU Read website.
The Research and Evaluation team
Meet our team, read articles and get in touch.