On Friday, April 9, 2021, the U.S. Embassy’s five American Corners hosted a reading marathon in celebration of U.S. and Armenian National Library Weeks. The marathon featured the bestselling American novel, “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio. The book teaches us to respect and value one another – to look beyond our external differences and appreciate that which unites us as human beings.
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Lynne M. Tracy and Yerevan Deputy Mayor Gayane Melkom Melkomyan participated in the reading marathon alongside other U.S. diplomats, municipal officials, academics, literary figures, librarians and patrons. Participants read portions of the book aloud, each reader taking turns, reading for five minutes in English or Armenian. The entire event was broadcast online on the Yerevan American Corner’s Facebook page.
Ambassador Tracy said of the book, “The story teaches children and adults alike that we all deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. It also teaches us the power of resilience… At the end of the day, we may have different backgrounds, cultures, languages, or appearances, but when we accept and value those differences, we can more effectively work together for the betterment of us all.”
“Wonder” is a novel about August (Auggie) Pullman, a boy who was born with a medical condition that left his face disfigured. Because of this, he has been homeschooled his entire life – up until the point the book begins. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, Auggie wants to just be treated as an ordinary kid – but it is a challenge for his new classmates to see beyond his extraordinary face. The book shows how a community struggles to deal with differences and ultimately teaches us the value of empathy, acceptance, and – above all – kindness. “Wonder” has received numerous national and international awards and was turned into a film in 2017. In 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Armenia supported the translation of the novel into Armenian.
National Library Week is celebrated in the United States April 4-10, 2021, and in Armenia April 12-19. It was established more than 60 years ago to encourage reading at all ages.
As participants read the novel in the Yerevan American Corner, the other four American Corners in Armenia – Kapan, Charentsavan, Vanadzor, and Gyumri – as well as regional libraries across Armenia – connected via videoconference and offered a range of activities throughout the day for patrons.
The American Corners in Armenia celebrate literature and the English language throughout the year. In 2020, the Corners adapted to the pandemic and continued their mission of providing quality programming to patrons by moving their clubs and classes online. Programs include free English-language lessons, computer programming courses, and 3D printing clubs. American Corners also provide resources like books, DVDs, and magazines about the United States. Access to all of our Corners is free. More on the American Corners in Armenia is available at: https://www.americancorners.am/