Friday, January 17, 2014

Big Brother Mouse: Sponsoring a Book Party and Launching a Reading Program in Rural Laos

I've posted before about one of my favorite literary organizations: Big Brother Mouse. More than six years ago my wife and I spent a week in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Luang Prabang, Laos, and my biggest regret (other than not visiting the waterfall via tuk tuk!) was that we didn't stop by this grassroots, local, community-based project doing extraordinary things.

This year we made a donation to sponsor a book party and launch an entire reading program at a rural school in Laos. Here's the email update I recently received, along with pictures and a link to the page on the Big Brother Mouse website. These precious photos show the team reading aloud, talking about books, teaching songs about books and leading outdoor games. (I can't get enough!)
Wednesday, 25 December 2013, Huaihok Village, Khoun District, Xieng Khuang Province
Today, every student in Huaihok Village will be enjoying a book during their school's new reading time. Until now, most of these children had probably never even seen a book except perhaps a textbook, and had never read a book for enjoyment. Some didn't even know such things existed.
With your help, we've set up a reading program in the primary school here.  Many of these children won't be reading at first; reading skills are very weak, because they have so little practice. But now, with the very easy books that we provide, those skills will improve. To start off the new program, we held a book party for the children.

At the end of the party all the kids got to select a free book of their own, nearly always the first book they've ever owned. Then we left a set of books for every classroom, so they can have a reading time every day.  
It was an exciting day for all of the children, and we know they will always remember it -- both because they had fun, and for the magic of opening a fun book for the first time. And now, they can begin to develop a habit of reading every day, and discovering the new world that opens up. 

If you're as moved by this impact as I am, please consider making a donation! ($70 sponsors a reading program in 1 classroom; $350 for a whole school; $1,000-$3,500 sponsors a new book.)

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