A Book Party with Big Brother Mouse
My brother and I love to read. We can’t imagine a world without books! We were amazed to learn when we were researching Laos as a place to stop, that some kids in Laos have very little access to books. Some have never seen a book before! Big Brother Mouse is an organization here that works to publish books in the Lao language (translations and original stories, both) and then bring them to kids in rural villages all over Laos via one of their Book Parties. We decided as a family that we wanted to sponsor one of these book parties, and since we were planning to be here we got to attend the party we sponsored to see all the kids get new books!
The morning of the book party we went to their center in Luang Prabang where people can buy books or come and practice their English with volunteers. Staffers loaded up the van with books and snacks, then we all hopped in and headed off. We drove for a little more than an hour outside of Luang Prabang, then had to get out of the van and walk across a rickety bamboo bridge to the village.
The school had about 50 children ages six through twelve, and five teachers. The classrooms had no electricity, or glass in the windows, just two blackboards, a multiplication table, a few tables and a bunch of stools for the kids to sit. Most of the kids were smaller than me, even though some were about the same age, and they were all dressed in their school uniforms (a special occasion thing) dark pants and white shirts for the boys, sarongs and shirts for the girls. They all learned a song about Big Brother Mouse, and then came outside to the school yard (which had chickens running around) where we played a game, kind of like Hot Potato singing the new song and passing containers of baby powder around the circle. When the song was finished, the person holding the baby powder had to put some into their hands and smear it on their faces. Miles was the one who had to do this one of the times, it was very funny! They played another game kind of like Simon Says about what animals can fly, although that was harder to understand. Then it started to rain, so everyone crammed into one of the school rooms to listen to a couple of books being read- one was called “The Cat that Meditated” the other was about a frog, but I don’t know what it was called (the frog gets eaten by a snake at the end.) We passed out milk to all the kids for a snack, and then the best part of all was when they all got to pick out a new book to take home. We also gave books to the teachers for the classroom and library, too. It was nice seeing all the kids reading their new books, trading and reading their friend’s books, too. I’ll never see my classroom with its stacks of books and computers and science equipment the same way again! When we got back to the center, we bought some more books to take with us when we go trekking later in our trip. Our guide will help us find the teachers in the village and give the books to them.
If you ever come to Luang Prabang or Vientaine, you can visit Big Brother Mouse, too, but you can sponsor a book party without ever coming here. They will send you a report and some photos so you can see how your book party went afterwards. Visit Big Brother Mouse for more information.