Reading Aloud in Britain Today
Do you ever read out loud?
Shouting? Whispering? Chanting?
To one person, in a group or completely alone?
Reading Aloud in Britain Today (RABiT) is a two-year study of contemporary adult reading aloud practices. We want to find out whether, what, where, how and why adults read aloud, or listen to others reading.
Much is written about reading aloud as a teaching or motivational tool – a means to an end – but not so much is written about reading aloud as an end in itself, an everyday adult practice. Anecdotal evidence suggests that adults do indeed read aloud for various purposes and across various life domains and yet these practices are rarely talked about.
We want to find out more.
RABiT aims to expand what we all think of when we hear the word ‘reading’ by documenting and analysing contemporary adult reading aloud practices. We want to explore the diversity of reading practices (on and offline) that adults perform or experience in different communities, languages, contexts and phases of our lives. This is part of a desire to better understand the role of reading in community life and the relationship between forms of reading and other cultural practices, such as speechmaking, story-telling or professions of faith.
We want to capture the reading aloud practices of as many different adults as possible across Scotland, England and Wales. We hope to reach people of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, faiths, cultural, educational and language backgrounds, in both urban and rural locations.
RABiT runs from June 2017 until the end of May 2019.
Year one of the project involves data collection and analysis, using:
- a Mass Observation directive
- a questionnaire completed by over 600 adults across Scotland, Wales and England
- semi-structured interviews and
- audio recordings of people reading aloud
In year two we will explore and share the findings through:
- four regional community events
- an academic symposium
- writing publications of different sorts
- depositing interviews and audio recordings in the British Library Sound Archive, subject to permissions/agreement
- The team
RABiT is led by Sam Duncan, Senior Lecturer in Adult Education and Literacies, through an AHRC Early Careers Research Fellowship.
Sam is supported by her mentor, Dr Mark Freeman, Reader in Education and Social History.
- Project partners
We are delighted to be working with our project partners, without whose support RABiT would not be happening.
- The British Library
- Learning and Work Institute
- The Reading Agency
- The Mass Observation Project
- Advisory group
We are very grateful to the RABiT Advisory Group for their constant and invaluable guidance.
- Dr Ann Swinney, Discipline Lead, Community Learning and Development, University of Dundee
- Debbie Hicks, Creative Director, Reading Agency
- Dr Farid Panjwani, Director, Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education, UCL Institute of Education
- Professor Greg Brooks, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Sheffield
- Jane Mace, Practitioner, Trainer and Author in Adult Literacy Education since the 1970s
- Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator for Spoken English at the British Library
- Kirsty Pattrick, Mass Observation Archive Officer
- Lesley Allen, South-East London, Co-Ordinator of the Diamond Club, Holy Cross Parish, Catford and Stockwell Good Neighbours, Oval
- Dr Maxine Burton, Researcher and Writer on Adult Literacy, Linguistics and History of Education
- Professor Mike Baynham, Emeritus Professor of TESOL, School of Education, University of Leeds
- Dr Sarah Turvey, Principal Lecturer in English Literature, University of Roehampton and Director, Prison Reading Groups (PRG)
RABiT was made possible through an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellows Scheme for Early Careers Researchers.