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Dr Jen Aggleton

Profile summary

Professional biography

Dr Jen Aggleton is a Lecturer in Education Studies in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, and Language Studies. Before moving into academia Jen was a primary school teacher and a librarian. She spent several years as a Key Stage 2 teacher in Hampshire and Cambridgeshire, and has worked in both school and academic libraries. Jen joined the OU in July 2019, contributing specialisms in literacy, literature and culture to the Primary Education team. Prior to this she contributed to teaching at the University of Cambridge, and was a visiting lecturer at City, University of London, where she taught the module Child and Adolescent Literature, Literacies, and Library Services. Jen holds master's degrees in History (University of Nottingham), Information and Library Studies (Aberystwyth University), and Critical Approaches to Children's Literature (University of Cambridge), as well as a PhD in Education (University of Cambridge).

Research interests

Jen's research interests centre around children's culture, and include children's cultural engagements and reader response, children's library collections, and visual texts. Her ESRC-funded PhD research explored children's experiences of reading illustrated novels, and was awarded a special commendation in the United Kingdom Literacy Association student research prize for postgraduate work.  She has also published research on digital comics, and on children's involvement in the development of library collections. Jen conducts both theoretical and empirical research and is particularly interested in participatory forms of research which position children as co-researchers. 

Jen is currently leading a United Kingdom Literacy Association funded international research project exploring teachers' perceptions and experiences of using narrative videogames to teach literacy, working with colleagues at McGill University, Canada and United Arab Emirates University, UAE.

Teaching interests

Jen is the Module Chair of E209, Developing Subject Knowledge for the Primary Years. She is also a member of the authoring team for the Primary PGCE. She was lead author for Strand B Understanding Learners and Strand C Planning, and provided contributions around English Language, Literature, Literacy, and Arts, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion across the PGCE. Jen is also a member of the authoring team for L301 Language, Literature, and Childhood (launching 2023). She is authoring the units What is Children's Literature? and Digital Engagements, as well as a print chapter on Comics. 

Jen is currently part of a PhD supervising team for a project on Representations of sign language and D/deaf culture in children's literature.

Impact and engagement

Jen worked with the British Library exploring the collection and preservation of digital comics, and developed a new web archive collection of British webcomics. The archive can be found at the link below. Please nominate any British webcomics you know of that aren't currently represented to help the archive grow.

Jen oversees the annual evalutation of Cheltenham Festivals' Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils programme. She is also a member of professional associations including the International Research Society for Children's Literature (IRSCL), the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA), and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

External collaborations

Jen was part of the AHRC funded Digital Children's Library Network, working with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, University of Florida, Anglia Ruskin University, and the University of Antwerp. She is currently working with Dr Macarena García González, president of the Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Justicia Educacional at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, advising on an international project on young readers' experiences of public libraries.


Pictures and picturing: mental imagery whilst reading illustrated novels (2022-06-15)
Aggleton, Jen
Cambridge Journal of Education, 53(1) (pp. 79-95)

Defining digital comics: a British Library perspective (2019)
Aggleton, Jen
Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 10(4) (pp. 393-409)

Where are the children in children’s collections? An exploration of ethical principles and practical concerns surrounding children’s participation in collection development (2018)
Aggleton, Jen
New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, 24(1) (pp. 1-17)

“What is the Use of a Book Without Pictures?” An Exploration of the Impact of Illustrations on Reading Experience in A Monster Calls (2017-09)
Aggleton, Jen
Children's Literature in Education, 48(3) (pp. 230-244)

Reading Librarians and school libraries (2023)
Aggleton, Jen; Carter, Carol and Grieve, Mary Rose
In: Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia eds. Reading Teachers: Nurturing Reading for Pleasure (pp. 150-161)
ISBN : 978-1-032-10502-4 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Collecting and Preserving Digital Comics (2017-09-07)
Aggleton, Jen
The British Library, London.