When travelling overseas I always try to pick up a book or two from that country, it helps to get the feel of the culture and people that live there. I was recently in Laos a beautiful green gentle place in the north village of Luang Prabang and picked up a book of traditional stories at the airport before I left Laos. There are not a great variety of books in Laos especially in the more remote villages like Luang Prabang and what are there, have been written by the Lao people, in their own language and printed with the help of sponsorship from people around the world. Many children have never seen a book and have no idea how it works.
A publishing house known as Big Brother Mouse was started up back around 2006, by a retired American. And by 2010 more than 85,000 rural Lao children received the first book they had ever seen. Some remote areas are only attainable by elephant. Since I didn’t actually get to read this book fully until I got home, I was unaware that the publishing house was only around the corner from my hotel. Had I known, I would love to have not only visited, but spent a day holding a book party in a remote village with the aid of locals, and bought some books to hand out, read, and play games with the children. They often hold book parties to help introduce books for fun to children, who would otherwise never get the opportunity to read and enjoy written stories, thanks to sponsorship from outside the country.
“Aijethai and other traditional stories from Laos” is produced by Siphone Vouthisukdy and illusrated by Sengxay Sawan in 2009 with translations by Sioubon Mekonsy and Souphaphaeng Dangmany, over 48 pages in paperback. The illustrations are painted and the text is split in Lao and English. This book was made possible by Lin Palmer of England, and it is noted on the inside cover. While the book is, I felt, more suited to 7 years and up each endearing story is summed up with a moral.
The first story about a boy named Aijethai who won the heart of a princess after forgiving his parents for leaving him in the forest as he ate so much , he also did not kill the giant he was later sent to kill. The moral “Goodness wins over everything”
Another story about a young boy who respected all the elderly including a white elephant was inturn helped by the white elephant when he and his father became caught in the forest. When the white elephant was caught by solders, he attacked and killed, the boy intern asked for the respect of the white elephant. The moral “A calm temper can pacify a bad one.”
Other morals are “Love triumphs over Hate,” “Honesty and Perseverance will Prevail over Betrayal and Greed,” and “Goodness and sincerity cannot be bought, but with them, anything is possible.” All teach children the value of kindness and respect.
We plan to visit Luang Prabang in about three years time, in the hope of attending a book party, (even on the back of an elephant if necessary), the joy of reading stories, and seeing the wonder on each small face as they learn to turn a page, it would be worth the long flight.
If your interested in sponsoring, visiting, want to send books, or simply to know more, check out their very creative and informative website at: http://www.bigbrothermouse.com/index.html