We met Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang, Laos. This publishing project, founded by a retired American publisher, was born in 2006. Book publishing at that time was a rare event in Laos. Since then a small team of high school students and recent college graduates tries to find ways to make fun books for young readers, and to get these books to children in rural villages. Many children have never read a book besides school text books so it definitely is time to spread some fun books across Laos.
If you want to get in touch with Big Brother Mouse in person we recommend to visit Luang Prabang in Laos.
What was the main reason to bring "Big Brother Mouse" to life?
Traditionally, books have been rare in Laos. The number of children who go to school is slowly but steadily increasing, yet many children have never read a book outside of school textbooks. Few Lao people think that reading can be fun, can add to their education, or will provide information to improve their quality of life.
What is different about "Big Brother Mouse"?
Big Brother Mouse is not an NGO. It is a not-for-profit, Lao-owned project, with a Lao staff. We are helping young Laotians develop new skills, as we build the foundations to become a self-sufficient Lao publishing house.
How is the project financed?
We are not building dependency. When we started, we gave books to schools free. As the Lao economy grows, we are changing. Since 2014 we ask that most villages pay part of the cost of the reading program in their school. In case people want to support our project it is possible to make a donation as well.
How do you spread the word about the project?
We sometimes have a rural book party, or hold an art contest at a school. During these events young Lao men and women lead the activities and make the presentations. Children discover that books can be fun. They also envision new possibilities for their own lives.
What is special about the books you publish?
We published our first books in 2006. Some are just in Lao; others are in both Lao and English, making them useful not only for our primary audience – Lao children – but also for people of any age, who speak either English or Lao, and are learning the other language.
How do you find new books for the Lao children?
Together, we look at the books that children have enjoyed most anywhere in the world. We think about what underlying concepts made those books successful. Then we ask if those concepts could be used in Laos, with new Lao content and pictures.
Is there a possibility to support you on-site?
We have a small shop located in the center of Luang Prabang. Every day, except for major holidays, we open our doors for young Lao students to improve their language skills. Lessons are from 9 to 11 am and from 5 to 7 pm. The students need practice talking with native English speakers and people from other countries with varied accents. This is why we will give a warm welcome to everyone who visits Luang Prabang and wants to join the classes. It is a chance to get to know more about the lives of our students too. We also sell books which then can be distributed to children when visiting rural villages.
Want to get to know more about Big Brother Mouse and the work this organization does? Go ahead and visit their homepage.