DIFFERENT STORIES Picture Books - Visit to Vanadzor School N8 and Lori Regional Library

In the framework of regional visits of  DIFFERENT STORIES Picture Books project ARI Literature Foundation team was hosted at the primary school No. 8 in the city of Vanadzor, Lori region to present the books “I Speak Through Dancing” and “The Champion” published as part of the project. The author of the books Gayane Aghabalyan was also present at the meetings.

In the school of Vanadzor, we met students of the fourth grade. Among them was a student with a hearing disability. After a short conversation, the students read the books and shared their impressions. The author of the book, Gayane Aghabalyan, told the stories of the creation of the books and asked the children to share the stories that inspired them. We talked to the teachers and the school principal about the methods of implementing inclusive education used by them. The school has 350 students, ten of which are children with special needs.

There are teaching assistants working at the school who teach children with special needs. The principal of the school, Anush Sarukhanyan, said that they often face problems with the parents of children with special needs, who are not ready to accept their children as they are, and sometimes hinder the children’s socialization. The teachers mentioned that due to continuous and consistent work, all children are involved in the learning process and show good results both in education and integration.

At Lori Regional Library we met students of another school and their teachers. Another method of presentation was used here: without any prior talk about the topic the children read the books and shared their opinions and impressions. During the discussions we found out that the disabilities of the protagonists of the books weren’t perceived as the central topic. Instead, the children emphasized the ability to pursue and achieve goals, regardless of their abilities. The teachers, librarians and a child psychologist present at the discussion mentioned that meetings in this format are the most effective for talking with children about sensitive topics through books. Novelist Narine Kroyan, who supported the organization of the meeting, was also present at the event.

The head of Lori Regional Library Karine Hambardzumyan told us that during past ten years two people with disabilities have joined their team. They not only succeed in their work but they discover their mission. The library delivers books to readers with disabilities (some of them being writers as well) living in Vanadzor. Soon readings of their works will be organized in the library to help them socialize and create necessary conditions for their participation in public events. ARI Literature Foundation accepted the offer to cooperate with the Lori Regional Library and will try to organize events there within the framework of other programs in the near future.

We would like to express our gratitude to Vanadzor school director Anush Sarukhanyan and Lori regional library director Karine Hakobyan, for organizing the meetings and hosting us.