What Do A Country’s Children’s Books Reveal About Its Culture?

It’s no secret that kids (and adults) learn from what we read. Some psychology researchers decided to look into the children’s books in China and the U.S. to compare the “values” and “messages” passed in these books.

Cecilia Cheung, a professor at University of California Riverside, looked at a book from China: The Cat That Eats Letters, which is about a cat that has an appetite for sloppy letters to encourage kids to write carefully and practice regularly. Cheung commented that the underlying idea is about “effort — that children have to learn to consistently practice in order to achieve a certain level,” undoubtedly a core principle of Chinese culture. Her studies concluded that storybooks from China stressed certain “learning-related values” like setting goals, putting in efforts, etc. about twice as frequently as the books from the U.S. and Mexico.

In contrast, books from the U.S. tend to focus on happiness and positive psychology. In short, it seems to be a battle of IQ vs. EQ.

The Team at Little Chinese Readers have also noticed something similar as we survey the market for great books and ideas to introduce to our learners. Whereas Disney books and Western fairy tales tend to appeal to the imagination, albeit often with some moral behind the fable, storybooks from Japan (especially the famous Shimajiro series) focuses on the daily routines by introducing the cultural events and acceptable societal rules.

Without a doubt, storybooks certainly reveal a lot about one’s cultures and values but it’s important to learn about as many of them as we can. At Little Chinese Readers, we try to write a wide spectrum of stories that would appeal to the students on multiple fronts and introduce them to sound values for we hope our kids will excel not only language but in understanding cultural values across the globe.

Start reading one of our stories today (it’s free).

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