BY MEGHEDI MELODY NAZARIAN
In order to keep a culture alive, and to completely understand its intricacies, you must preserve the language. That was the main objective when Taleen Khoury Moughamian set out to create Armenian children’s book, “Parev, Yerevan.” After having kids, Taleen had a lot of trouble finding age-appropriate books for very young kids in Armenian.
One night, when reading a board book about San Francisco to both her kids, she had an “aha” moment: “We need a book like this about Yerevan, but in Armenian!” She wants more kids to be exposed to the Armenian language.
“Even before children learn to speak, they are absorbing everything they hear,” Taleen says. “Reading to children at a young age helps them to speak, cultivate their imagination, build their language comprehension, and read early themselves. Exposure to Armenian books at a young age sets the foundation for understanding and speaking Armenian.”
Taleen was born in Philadelphia but currently lives in San Francisco with her husband Armen and their two kids, Noor (age 5) and Van (age 2.5), her main inspirations for writing “Parev, Yerevan.” Being Armenian has always been a huge part of Taleen’s identity: “The first time I went to Armenia I was 19, and after that experience, I knew it would be an even bigger part of my life.” She’s been to the Motherland three times, all as a long-term volunteer. The last time, in 2012, she partnered with COAF, performing health screenings for women in villages outside Yerevan.
Taleen always loved reading books growing up. When she finally took steps to make “Parev, Yerevan” a reality, she started by doing extensive research, both on board books and on Yerevan. The book, suited for ages 0-5, take the reader on a tour of iconic sites in Yerevan from a child’s perspective. “Parents can use the book to start discussing Armenia with their children and all the wonderful things Yerevan has to offer, Taleen suggests. For the pictures, Taleen worked with Armenia-based illustrator, Lusine Khandilyan, who felt inspired to start illustrating after having her third child.
Together, the ladies are excited to entertain and educate young Armenian kids all over the world. “Whether we live in Armenia or are part of the Diaspora, we all have a role to play in its development and future, and that’s part of what inspired me to get young children excited about Yerevan and Armenia,” Taleen says.