How does home literacy environment influence reading comprehension in Chinese? Evidence from a 3-year longitudinal study

  • Su-Zhen Zhang
  • Tomohiro Inoue
  • Hua Shu
  • George K. GeorgiouEmail author


Although several studies have examined the role of home literacy environment (HLE) in learning to read in Western societies, little is known about the role of HLE in Chinese reading. In addition, the few studies in Chinese have not tested the possible effects of HLE on reading comprehension. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the direct and indirect effects of different aspects of HLE (formal literacy experiences, informal literacy experiences, and access to literacy resources) on reading comprehension in Chinese. One hundred fifty-nine third year kindergarten children (70 girls and 89 boys; Mage = 72.62 months) participated in the study. In kindergarten, they were assessed on emergent literacy skills (vocabulary, phonological awareness, pinyin knowledge, rapid naming), in Grade 1, on word reading, and, in Grade 2, on reading comprehension. In addition, parents filled out a questionnaire on their education and income, the frequency of different HLE activities, the number of children’s books at home, and their expectations, when their children were in kindergarten. Results of structural equation modeling showed that formal literacy experiences predicted reading comprehension through the effects of pinyin knowledge on word reading. Access to literacy resources predicted reading comprehension through the effects of rapid naming, phonological awareness, and vocabulary. Finally, informal literacy experiences did not predict any of the emergent literacy skills or reading outcomes. Our findings provide only partial support of the home literacy model and suggest that the culture in which environmental effects take place may determine what aspects of the home literacy environment contribute to children’s reading performance and what not.


Chinese Home literacy environment Pinyin Reading comprehension Word reading 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jining UniversityQufuChina
  2. 2.Seigakuin UniversityAgeoJapan
  3. 3.Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Educational Psychology, 6-102 Education NorthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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