Reading Choices and the Effects of Reading Fiction: The Responses of Adolescent Readers in Turkey to Fiction and E-Fiction

Osman Coban, Evelyn Arizpe (Supervisor), Maureen Farrell (Supervisor)

Research output: Other contribution


In surveying the cultural context of modern day Turkey it must be acknowledged that, historically, there have been critical problems between different ethnic (Turkish and Kurdish) and religious groups in Turkey arising from prejudice, intolerance and leading to hatred and conflict. One way of easing the tension between these groups could be by challenging prejudice through developing empathy, understanding and respect. Among a number of ways this could be done, researchers in the field of literacy and children’s literature have stressed the positive effects of reading books that emerge from the transaction between the reader and the text which have the potential to raise awareness about prejudice (Arizpe et al., 2014b; Farrar, 2017). However, research suggests that young people’s amount of reading books is low in Turkey (OECD, 2009; OECD, 2012); in addition, the Board of National Education in Turkey (BNET) and education policies in Turkey have not paid attention to young people’s reading interests or their reading for pleasure (BNET, 2011a and b). Based on the theoretical tenet that reading fiction can affect readers’ thoughts and emotions, the wide aim of this study was to explore the potential of reading fiction for developing empathy and understanding. Given that young people’s reading interests have not been considered in Turkey in detail, this thesis had to begin by investigating what kind of books were preferred and what effects they had on adolescent readers in that country. In order to accomplish this, a case study method with a mixed method design was employed and it was decided that an approach using the Transactional theory of reading as well as Cognitive Criticism would help to achieve this goal. In total, 381 students (aged between 16 and 18) responded to an online questionnaire and 10 of these students participated in interviews and reading activities. The data was analysed using the IBM SPSS 22 statistical analysis program and NVivo qualitative analysis software. The findings of the study identified the significant impact that gatekeepers and facilitators (government, publishers and social community) have on Turkish adolescents’ reading attitudes and choices. It was also found that, although young people liked reading contemporary fiction and online texts, so far this has not been taken into account in the Curriculum and in the promotion of reading in Turkey. The study has identified a major gap between what schools offer and what students read (or between in-school and out-of-school practices), a key aspect in reducing students’ interest in reading books and therefore a missed opportunity for raising awareness about prejudice. Finally, this study provides strong evidence about the potential of reading and discussing books with a small group of adolescent readers, an activity that enabled them to express their thoughts about serious issues and thus supported them in developing self-understanding and understanding of others.
Original languageEnglish
TypePhD Thesis
PublisherUniversity of Glasgow
Number of pages272
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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