Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Nicholas J. Cutforth, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ralph DiFranco

Third Advisor

Karin Dittrick-Nathan

Fourth Advisor

Peter Bonaker


Culture, Curriculum studies, Early childhood education, Early literacy curriculum, Human development, Pursuit of happiness


This study is an account of the literacy-related human environment a Chinese girl experienced as the first person in the history of her family who was able to read prior to entry into elementary school. Temporally speaking, the study spanned more than a decade from the initial, tentative research question to the formal, primary research question. Spatially speaking, it crossed three cultures: the Chinese, Korean, and American cultures. The study was inspired by the Zero Project in China, known as the "Project of Quality Education and Implementation for Children Aged Zero (fetus) to Six." The significance of the content issue in a child's literacy curriculum was explored in an interdisciplinary way. Case study served as a holistic research approach and provided the researcher with free temporal and spatial distance to pursue the indefinably multi-dimensional intricacies of a child's early literacy acquisition among generations in the family. Interpretation of the case was based on the relevant concepts within the scope of the researcher's knowledge of Chinese culture. Major findings revealed that the child's literacy acquisition was inseparably related to her parents' background as well as their awareness of and attitudes towards literacy, and that the foundation of all this was the harmony of the family. Through the lens of generational attitudes towards literacy and especially the lens of the researcher's multicultural life experiences, this study contributes to the field of curriculum studies in general and early literacy curriculum in particular by stimulating people to reconsider what to read to children, besides how to read to them. It calls attention once again to the classic curriculum question, "What knowledge is of most worth?" as well as what is the most essential spiritual food human beings need besides physical needs. This study suggests that Chinese philosophy should be included in a child's early literacy curriculum in China and calls for dialogues on the content issue of curriculum to gain a deeper understanding of human nature so that humans might co-live peacefully with all beings in the universe.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Shu Ping Zhang


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

318 p.


Curriculum Development, Early Childhood Education, Bilingual Education