Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Big Brother Mouse

I'm just back from a fantastic trip into Thailand and Laos. As always I had my eyes open for children and for things of interest to children. It seems that children in Laos love dinosaurs too! 
We drove the length of Laos from Namptha in the north to Pak Se in the south. In the north, we traveled narrow windy roads through mountains right out of a Chinese painting, with villages of houses on stilts with bamboos walls, people washing themselves and their clothing at the village spigot and cooking on charcoal fires on the ground. When we got to the capitol city of Vientiane, I found a book store with books in English and Lao--and discovered Big Brother Mouse.
Many of the children in the villages we passed have never read a book except for school textbooks, and some not even that. Books are
 rare, and even many adult Lao people don't think books can be enjoyable, or interesting, or add to their lives in any way. Big Brother Mouse is a project to bring the enjoyment of books even to villages far from roads. The project teaches local young people the computer, writing, and publishing skills to create the books. Even the illustrations are done by young people. Young people introduce books to children in the villages through games and demonstrations. They give every child a book to read, and leave more books with the teacher so that the children can trade their book for another when they are finished reading it.