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Understanding a tale in Sweden, Japan and China

Journal article
Authors Maj Asplund Carlsson
Ingrid Pramling
I Wen
C Izumi
Published in Early Child Development and Care
Volume 120
Pages 17-28
Publication year 1996
Published at Department of Education
Department of Education, Language and Literature Unit
Pages 17-28
Language en
Keywords ECE, learning, understanding a tale, preschool
Subject categories Pedagogy


It has previously been shown that interpretations of narratives are culture-specific (Bartlett, 1932; Dundes, 1976; Mandler, 1984). The tale The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, built on the Jewish tradition of tales, has previously been used in research on children and adolescents 8-18 years, in different cultures (Moriya, 1989), mainly focusing differences in interpretation of symbols, and the message in social and interpersonal terms, in relation to gender as well as culture. In our study, 93 Swedish, 30 Chinese and 30 Japanese children, 6 years old, were interviewed about how they understood the tale The Giving Tree. The phenomenographic analysis shows how children in the three countries recall a narrative, how they understand certain aspects of this tale and how they experience the message. The comparison reflects cultural aspects of knowledge, understanding and learning, related to previous studies of preschools in different cultures (Tubin, Wu & Davidson, 1989 and Pramling, 1989).

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