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How do values in Chinese, American storybooks compare? UC Riverside study reads between the lines

By in Press Enterprise on December 30, 2017

By Staff report

UC Riverside psychologist Cecilia Cheung found lessons in childhood storybooks are different in China than they are in the United States and Mexico.

The professor argued in a recent study that children’s storybooks play a pivotal role in creating values that can help with scholastic success.

UC Riverside graduate students Jorge Monroy and Danielle Delany helped Cheung with research. The study, which looked at 380 storybooks for children aged 3 to 11, was published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

In a news release, Chung said it’s “conceivable that exposure to reading materials that highlight the importance of learning-related qualities, such as effort and perseverance, may lead children to value such qualities to a greater extent.”

Cheung and her team saw Chinese storybooks focused more on learning and hard work while U.S. and Mexican storybooks placed importance on self-esteem and social competence.

“The values that are commonly conveyed in Chinese (vs. U.S.) storybooks include an orientation toward achievement, respect for others – particularly the elderly – humility, and the importance of enduring hardship,” Cheung said. “In the U.S. storybooks, protagonists are often portrayed as having unique interest and strength in a certain domain, and the themes tend to be uplifting.”

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