This paper reports on a small-scale action research project conducted by two university-based researchers using a visual arts method. The seven-week drawing programme was the second cycle of an action research project. The participants were nine boys of primary school age variously identified by their teachers as reluctant readers and/or as struggling with print literacy. The thematic concerns addressed in the paper fall into two broad categories: motivating learners by drawing on their popular cultural capital and interests, as well as tracing the construction of visual texts as data in action research. Findings are presented in response to the following research questions: What happens to those students who do not or cannot meet the required standards in literacy? What kind of research approach can be utilised or adapted to respond to the literacy practices and behaviours of young people?