Encouraging boys to read
: a case study of a boys' independent school library

  • Penelope Davison

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


To examine the role of the school library in encouraging Key Stage Three (KS3) boys to read fiction and to consider why this is important. There is a long tradition of investigating boys’ reading habits but little research has been undertaken in a boys-only environment. The objectives were to undertake a case study of an independent boys' school library in order to:

• assess its role in the promotion and provision of fiction to KS3 boys
• examine what methods are used to encourage reading and what steps are taken to reduce barriers to reading
• to compare current practice with the literature and make recommendations accordingly

A qualitative case study was undertaken of an independent boys’ school library. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with purposely selected “gatekeepers”: librarians and teachers. The boys themselves were not interviewed for ethical reasons. The themes which emerged from the interview data were systematically analysed and conclusions drawn.

The case study found that boys are not naturally averse to reading but read less as they become older owing to negative perceptions of reading and the pressure of conflicting demands on their time. The act of choosing a book causes problems and boys are not aware of the services offered by the library to support them in their reading. The most important factor in encouraging boys is the creation of a culture of reading.

The research revealed similar problems to those discussed in the literature but suggested different causes and consequently different solutions: these differences may be owing to socio-economic factors. The creation of a “reading culture” can only be achieved by significant adults adopting a role of support and encouragement and school librarians are ideally positioned to do so.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorAnoush Simon (Supervisor)

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