Promoting Book Culture for Young People in Laos
We all remember that time when we were young and jumped into bed waiting for our mum or dad to come for our daily ‘bedtime story’. Many Lao children have no such memories simply because they have no books at home. At the countryside, some have never even seen a book at all. There are even only few books published in Lao language.
In 2006, the not-for-profit Big Brother Mouse Project started under the slogan: “Books that make literacy fun!” Big Brother Mouse focuses on publishing books that improve literacy and quality of life, and on making those books accessible – particularly in rural Lao villages. The organization is not an NGO but a Lao-owned project with Lao staff.
The project started with the publishing of easy picture books for children. Nowadays, books for all ages are available. In 2012, more than 125,000 Lao children were given a book by Big Brother Mouse. However, Big Brother Mouse goes further than just publishing. Hands-on learning skills are provided to young people, such as writing, editing, translating, managing a computer, and organizing events. Besides, book parties at schools are organized in rural Lao villages. At the end, enough books are left behind in the classrooms for kids to join a sustained silent reading program. Finally, Big Brother Mouse is developing effective new ways to distribute books throughout the country.
The founder of the Big Brother Mouse Project is Sasha Alyson, a retired book publisher. After visiting Laos for the first time in May 2003, he was concerned by the fact that he saw so few books. That brought him to the idea of creating Lao language books and teaching publishing skills at the same time. Together with two Lao college students, he started to develop easy-to-read and entertaining books for children. They often use popular books from the west for inspiration.
Khiri Travel is proud to take its guests either to the home of Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang or to the bookshop in Vientiane. Travelers are encouraged to buy books, which they can present to the children when visiting a rural village. In Luang Prabang, English-speaking clients are invited to come over to the office to practice English conversations with young adults. Also, donations can be made. Big Brother Mouse is contributing in a great way to the development of Laos.
For more information on the Big Brother Mouse project, please contact [email protected].