‘Americanah’ chosen as 2014 Penn State Reads common text

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Reads program, a collaborative initiative for first-year students at University Park and other campuses that choose to participate, is pleased to announce that “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be the common book for the 2014 incoming class. The book is listed on The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013.

The common reading program runs complementary to Penn State’s New Student Orientation and supplies each first-year University Park campus student with a copy of the chosen book to provide a shared experience. The program aims to encourage intellectual engagement within and beyond the classroom, stimulate critical thinking and foster a deeper connection to Penn State’s mission and core values.

“Reading programs like Penn State Reads help to develop a shared experience that facilitates conversation and connections across students, faculty, staff and community members who engage with the book,” said Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education and co-chair with Barry Bram of Penn State Reads. “ ‘Americanah’ was chosen as next year’s common book because it tells the story of one woman’s understanding of ethnicity and race in today’s globalized world. It explores the universal human experience through people who for various reasons go to other countries and struggle to adjust to different norms.”

Ngozi Adichie, who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in both her home country and the United States, is the award-winning author of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and has a widely watched TED talk, called “The Danger of a Single Story.”

Concepts that are introduced at New Student Orientation over the summer are further explored during Welcome Week and beyond into students’ first year at Penn State, Edmondson said. Events based upon the book’s themes, including a visit by the author, will be planned throughout the 2014 fall and spring semesters.

“The goal is to create a shared experience for new students that helps serve their academic, co-curricular and social transition to the University,” Edmondson said, adding that the 2013 Penn State Reads book, “Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times,” by Eyal Press, already has been integrated into many first-year seminars and other courses.

Administered by Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, the University Libraries and the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs, the common reading program is in its inaugural year and is modeled after Penn State's successful Schreyer Honors College reading program for incoming students and similar programs at other universities.

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Last Updated June 04, 2014