Dr Alison Waller's new research finds that literature helped teenagers cope with lockdown
- Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Young People and Fiction in the Time of Covid-19
New research at the University of Roehampton has found that reading and talking about young adult fiction (YA) helped teenagers come to terms with their experiences of living through lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Reading for Normal project, run by Dr Alison Waller and Dr Rita Dashwood in 2020-21, connected readers aged 13-17 from around the UK through online reading groups. The project helped them talk about their lives before and during Covid, using recent YA written by British authors as a starting point. Participants were encouraged to explore topics of ‘ordinariness’ and ‘normality’ in books which included Alice Oseman’s I Was Born for This and Non Pratt’s Every Little Piece of My Heart.
Waller and Dashwood found that this activity allowed young people to address questions about mental health, friendship, differences in background, and the changing world around them. Participants described their experience of taking part as ‘enriching’, ‘fun’, and ‘motivational’. Results will be published in the journal Studies in Book Culture later in 2022, and you can read more about the research here: Reading for Normal: Young People and Fiction in the Time of Covid-19 — University of Roehampton Research Explorer.
Dr Waller is now building on her research and rolling out a national programme of Reading4Normal Book Clubs, helping schools and pupils connect with each other and build community beyond lockdown. Alongside fellow YA specialist, Dr Emily Corbett, she is working with authors including Simon James Green, Danielle Jawando, Yasmin Rahman, Nikesh Shukla, and Lisa Williamson to bring together young readers from around the UK to discuss YA fiction and contemporary British life. www.reading4normal.com