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“You Can Choose”: Didacticism and the Struggle for Power in Chinese Parent/Child Dyad Book Choices

Abstract

Didacticism is an indispensable factor in the study of children’s literature, not only within the text, but also within activities such as choosing books. This article explores didacticism in children’s literature and the parent–child power structure within the relatively unexplored area of the book choices of Chinese parents and children who read Anglophone picturebooks together. Data collection comprised an online questionnaire, with 565 parent respondents and in-depth interviews with seven parents selected from the wider participant sample. The findings of this study reveal that parents’ choices of Anglophone picturebooks are driven by the books’ linguistic, literary and educational value rather than nurturing book lovers or consolidating the parent–child bond; parents and children tend to choose different English-language picturebooks and value different characteristics in English-language picturebooks. The results indicate that, although parents reported that they consider children’s interests, in general, picturebook selection is still a purposeful and didactic process with very clear goals set by parents. However, the data also indicate that children can show their agency during book selection; the tensions between parents’ and children’s picturebook choices and values tend to be negotiated and resolved.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.

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Correspondence to Ying Zou.

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Ying Zou is currently a research fellow at the Children’s Literature Research Center of Shanghai University, China. She earned her PhD at the University of York, UK. Her research centres on children’s literature, shared reading, and picturebooks. Her recent publications and conference presentations include explorations of historical Chinese children’s literature, analysis of canonical Chinese picturebooks, and shared reading in family settings.

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Zou, Y. “You Can Choose”: Didacticism and the Struggle for Power in Chinese Parent/Child Dyad Book Choices. Child Lit Educ (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-022-09476-x

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Keywords

  • Book choices
  • Anglophone picturebooks
  • Shared reading
  • Chinese reading practices