Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Education




Kathryn Marie Hibbert


This doctoral research explored the experiences of Chinese parents in parent-child shared reading on English picture books (EPBs). It was unique in its approach, taking the perspective and standpoint of the parents as the research stance, and was one of the few studies in the existing literature to do so. The Narrative Inquiry proposed by Polkinghorne (1995) was adopted to explore Chinese parents' voices, especially the unspoken ones. The study aimed to learn from Chinese parents' experiences, provided valuable insights into their reflections and expectations of their family literacy activities, and contributed to the limited research on English family literacy in the Chinese context.

The findings of this study suggest that, in the current Chinese context, parent-child shared reading practices on EPBs were influenced by their beliefs about literacy, which were highly shaped by their own literacy experiences, as well as the socio-cultural environment, SES, and educational level in which they were situated. The results contributed to a better understanding of how Chinese parents explore their literacy beliefs to reflect their experience of the parent-child shared EPBs reading by making these activities unique, relevant, and meaningful. In addition, the study revealed that these parents showed open-mindedness and inclusiveness towards topics, such as language skills and pedagogical framework, related to shared reading and had a solid learning awareness and motivation to implement family literacy practices. However, the study also highlighted the deficiencies in their socialized family literacy support system. And the impact of the unregulated commercialized environment of education on their implementation of English family literacy activities.

The study provided more background literature for future research on English family literacy in China and further insight into future exploration of parent-child shared reading on EPBs and English family literacy in the Chinese context.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study investigated how Chinese parents experience reading English picture books with their children and aimed to learn from their experiences about their reflections and expectations of family literacy activities. The study is unique because it uses the parents' perspective as the research stance, which is uncommon in existing research.

The study used Narrative Inquiry as the methodology to explore the voices of Chinese parents, especially those that were not spoken. It found that implementing parent-child reading practices on English picture books was highly influenced by parents' experiences and related to their current socioeconomic status, education level and other reasons.

The findings suggest that Chinese parents value shared parent-child reading and consider it essential for their children's literacy development. They also show an open and inclusive attitude toward topics related to shared reading, such as language skills and instructional frameworks. However, the study also revealed shortcomings in their socialized family literacy support systems and the impact of unregulated commercialized educational settings on their implementation of English-language family literacy activities.

Overall, this study provides important insights into Chinese parents' experiences with English picture book parent-child reading and highlights the need for further research. It also sheds light on the challenges and opportunities for family literacy activities in China.