Three power pieces for your reading advocacy playbook

There is a wealth of information out there on the motivation to read for pleasure, and a lot of it focussed on children and young people. I thought I’d write a quick blog with three great research power pieces that you can use to beef up your argument for including reading time in your school and/or library.

Mol & Bus’ To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to adulthood

This is an absolute power piece to keep in your back pocket. A meta-analysis is type of research that investigates a range of papers or studies on a topic, compares these pieces and summarises the findings. Mol and Bus looked into a 99 peer-reviewed articles that focussed on reading from early childhood into adulthood. They came up with this concept called the ‘spiral of causality’ which is described as the upwards trajectory of a person’s reading ability from the very beginning of their reading journey. The idea is that once a person starts reading, they progressively get better and move upwards in skill, but I like that they present it as a spiral rather than a straight incline as a spiral suggests that this can take time. Mol and Bus suggest that when a person stops reading, they slip back down the spiral, but also state that a person can enter the spiral at any point in their life and as long as they continue to read they will progress upwards.

I really love this work by Mol and Bus as it explores reading for pleasure in depth, the different stages of reading, and presents findings in a clear, easy to read way. I highly recommend that it become a staple in your advocacy pantry!

Gambrell et al.’s Assessing motivation to read

Gambrell et al.’s 1996 work has been around for a while but is a great tool for teacher librarians and library staff (or anyone at a school really) that are interested in understanding their students’ attitudes towards reading. This tool is commonly referred to as the Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile (AMRP) and consists of a two-part process. The first is a survey with 20 questions, and the second can either be follow-up interviews or openended questions added to the end of the original survey (like what I did in my research project An investigation into the reasons students read for pleasure).

Malloy et al. have done an updated version of this tool, which has slightly more modernised langauge, but the essence has remained the same. The survey questions are each scored out of 1-4 (4 being the highest/best result). The questions are also divided into two categories: value of reading and reader self-concept. Scores are allocated to either category and overall scores can give great insight into whether students value reading and how they view themselves as readers. I’ve used this tool and found it to be very useful. In fact, I’m using this tool in my PhD.

Wood et al.’s Motivation, self-efficacy, and the engaged reader

This piece might sound a little disheartening to begin with, as it states that “as students move from grade four to grade seven, their intrinsic motivation for reading tends to decline” (Wood et al., 2006, p.56). However, it does suggest that extrinsic motivation increases. (For those that aren’t sure, intrisic motivation is internal and extrinsic motivation is external.) While this might seem like a bad thing, you can actually turn this into a positive! This research suggests that unless a student is already a highly motivated, engaged reader then they will need some external motivation – this gives you a great piece of research to back the work that you’re doing to engage students in reading because if you don’t do this important work, they probably won’t read!

So, there’s three power pieces of research that you might like to use in your advocacy quest. Reading is so very important and time for students to read while they are at school is something that all students should be able to have, no matter where they attend school. Hopefully these three pieces can help you build an argument for having reading time embedded in your day/week/fortnight.

Have you got a piece of research that is similarly important or powerful in terms of advocating for reading? I’d love to read it! Leave a comment with details.


Gagen-Spriggs, K. (2020). An investigation into the reasons students read for pleasure. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 15.

Gambrell, L. B., Palmer, B. M., Codling, R. M., & Mazzoni, S. A. (1996). Assessing motivation to read. The Reading Teacher, 49(7), 518–533.

Malloy, J. A., Marinak, B. A., Gambrell, L. B., & Mazzoni, S. A. (2013). Assessing motivation to read: The Motivation to Read Profile-Revised. The Reading Teacher, 67(4), 273–282.

Mol, S. E., & Bus, A. G. (2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychological Bulletin, 137(2), 267–296.

Wood, K. D., Edwards, A. T., Hill-Miller, P., & Vintinner, J. (2006). Motivation, self-efficacy, and the engaged reader. Middle School Journal, 37(5), 55–61.

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