Literacy Matters Vol 24 Winter 2024

second language when she was an elementary student and started learning Korean, Spanish, and other languages as an undergraduate student. She also developed her understanding of diverse cultures and her language and literacy skills in Chinese, English, Spanish, Korean, and other languages through reading multicultural literature. The researcher can be considered an insider as a language learner and reader. Findings — Language(s) of the Books Table 1 shows the languages of the books in the Chinese English immersion elementary school library. The library had 1,815 books in Chinese, while there were 10,340 books in English, including 138 books about Chinese culture in English. There were also 296 Chinese-English bilingual books and 25 books in Spanish. Thus, there were fewer books in the Chinese language and both languages compared to books in English.

defining multicultural literature as literature that emphasizes the lives of people from non-mainstreamed cultural groups.

Multicultural literature can allow schools to include literature from various cultural groups (Cai & Bishop, 1994). Children who cannot read about themselves, their languages, or their cultures represented in texts may have difficulties identifying themselves, which can negatively impact their school experiences (Ada, 2016). Multicultural literature allows readers to understand diverse cultures and supports children to develop their imagination and creativity (Norton, 2013). Multicultural literature offers more opportunities for children to connect themselves to the characters’ lives and learn about the diverse cultures in the world (Iwai, 2015). Studies have shown that multicultural literature can support students in understanding diverse cultures and developing their literacy or language skills (Bedard & Fuhrken, 2019; López-Robertson, 2017; Piper, 2019; Yon, 2020). Many studies focused on African or Latin Americans who learn about themselves and other cultures and develop their literacy or language skills through multicultural literature. Few studies explored how Chinese Americans or people belonging to other cultural groups read multicultural literature. Additionally, only some studies focus on the book resources in dual-language immersion school libraries. Fewer studies examined the libraries of Chinese-English elementary schools. Thus, it is necessary to have more studies that focus on Chinese English dual-language immersion elementary school libraries. Methodology This study borrowed Norton’s multicultural literature study approach (2013), which suggested analyzing diverse themes when examining literature. The researcher visited the Chinese book corner in the Chinese-English dual language immersion elementary school library multiple times from Spring 2022 to Fall 2023 to explore the book resources and has visited the data numerous times. After analyzing and visiting the data multiple times, the researcher focused on four themes: Languages, authors, cultures, and characters of the books. The study was conducted in a southeastern city in the United States where about 92% of the residents were monolingual speakers, and Asian comprised about 3% of the population (World Population Review, 2023). There were only three Chinese Mandarin two-way immersion programs in this area. The Chinese-English two-way immersion school had a population of approximately 730 students. Demographically, about 43% of these students were Caucasian, about 33% were African American, about 5% were Asian American, 8% were Hispanic, about 12% were two or more races, less than 1 % were Native American, and less than 1% Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. This school was a tuition-free public charter school with 5k-8th grades and a tuition-based 4-year-old kindergarten. It provided a rich and rigorous education to all students. The researcher is a multilingual speaking teacher who teaches Mandarin to kindergarten and elementary students at a Chinese language school. She is also a doctoral student in a language and literacy program. She studied English as a

Literacy Matters General Articles

Chinese-English Bi-lingual

Language (s) Chinese English



1815 10340




15% 83%

2% 0% Table 1 Language(s) of the Books in the Chinese-English Immersion Elementary School Library

Table 2 shows the number of books with Pinyin and the number of books without Pinyin. Pinyin is the phonetic system that transcribes the Chinese sounds into a Latin alphabet (Wang & Andrews, 2021). Many beginner-level readers still rely on Pinyin to read the texts. However, readers who use Pinyin to read do not always comprehend the text they are reading. Pinyin to read. Many beginner Chinese learners still find it challenging to read without Pinyin. Only 28% of the books in the Chinese language had Pinyin, while 72% of the books in the Chinese language did not have Pinyin. Also, the content of the books with Pinyin was usually about animals, toys, or vocabulary books to build primary language and literacy skills. Elementary school students at a higher grade level may not be interested in the contents.


Books with Pinyin Books without Pinyin







Table 2 The Books in the Chinese Language

Figure 1 shows an example of a book with Pinyin. Students can read this picture book easily with Pinyin; however, the content of this book is about two children dreaming about flying to the moon. Sounding out the words in Chinese does not always enable students to comprehend the text since there is no direct correspondence between orthography and phonology in the

Figure 1 Book with Pinyin

| 20 | Literacy Matters | Volume 24 • Winter 2024


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