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.
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We acknowledge that some researchers have adopted a broader conceptualization of HLE that includes a combination of home literacy activities and contextual variables (e.g., demographic characteristics), child characteristics (e.g., temperament), mother–child interactions (e.g., maternal responsiveness), and parent–child joint activities (e.g., watching TV) (see Britto & Brooks-Gunn, 2001; Curry, 2012; Payne, Whitehurst, & Angell, 1994; Umek, Podlesek, & Fekonja, 2005)..
Pinyin is an alphabetic coding system that spells out the sounds of Chinese characters using both Roman alphabet letters and lexical tone transcriptions. The pinyin system employs almost all Roman letters used in English (without < v>, but with the addition of < ü>) representing 21 onsets and 35 rimes (Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2004). For a review of studies on Pinyin and Chinese reading see Wang, Lam, Mo, and McBride-Chang (2014).
Before constructing the structural model, we tested a measurement model for the home literacy environment and confirmed that the five constructs (parents’ expectations, family’s SES, FHLE, IHLE, and ALR) were properly assessed with the questionnaire used in this study. The results of this analysis can be obtained from the corresponding author.
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Zhang, SZ., Inoue, T., Shu, H. et al. How does home literacy environment influence reading comprehension in Chinese? Evidence from a 3-year longitudinal study. Read Writ 33, 1745–1767 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09991-2
- Home literacy environment
- Reading comprehension
- Word reading