Big Brother Mouse – A Success Story
Big Brother Mouse (BBM) is a not-for-profit organization in Laos publishing books to make literacy more fun and distributing them to kids in rural areas. Starting in 2006, this project developed into a success story and we are proud of being able to introduce them as one of our supported projects.
BBM does not only publish children’s books in Lao language, but also gives hands-on experience to young people in the fields of writing, editing, translating, computers, and organizing events. In addition, with their Book Parties and Mini Libraries, BBM is experimenting with ways to distribute books in a country where currently, there’s no good system for that.
The BBM Book parties help to bring books to those areas of Laos where kids do not have access to textbooks others than for school, sometimes not even that.
At the parties BBM staff introduces the concept of reading for pleasure to the kids. Then, a reading session follows and sometimes the stories are re-enacted to make literacy come alive and show kids how much fun that can be.
Afterwards each kid is offered to choose a book to keep or to swap for another one later. As most of the kids never owned a book in their life and probably would not have thought of literary as actually being fun, this is a very unique experience for them.
Subsequently a mini library is set up and books are left for the teachers, or another volunteer, to take care of. This serves as “swap box” where kids can trade their books once they have read them.
BBM just published their first annual report that shows a clearly positive development:
What started in 2006 with 3 parties per year soon developed into the organization of 501 of such parties in 2010 – indicating the demand for such a project and the positive feedback on its successful implementation.
A similar positive development could be recorded for the number of books that were distributed in rural Lao communities. From 1,800 books in 2006 this number skyrocketed to an astonishing total of 135,000 books last year. Further BBM was able to double the amount of books published per year to 30 in 2010.
In 2009 and 2010, BBM organized a couple of workshops in Luang Prabang and the villages of Nong Kiao for the village reading room volunteers. The major intention of these workshops was to encourage parents and volunteers to read aloud – something very natural to us, being lucky enough to receive a comprehensive education in the “developed” part of the world. In Laos, though, shyness, weak reading skills and a lifetime of never having seen anyone reading aloud has its bearing on this.
During these workshops BBM staff gave recommendations and demonstrated reading techniques. Afterwards participants were left by themselves in smaller groups to practice. The group then went into a village and practiced what they had learned to the kids and their parents. By end of the workshop the participants usually knew how to captivate their audience, and they loved doing it!
The organization of workshops will continue into 2011, although this year BBM will put a heavier focus on training the teachers.
Being involved in publication of literature and school books, BBM also wants to provide assistance to teachers how to use these materials effectively. Last year BBM published a booklet with suggestions for teachers. The planning for 2011 includes the broadening of these efforts by offering workshops to teachers, giving them hands-on experience how to use books effectively in class.
Exotissimo includes a visit to the BBM Center in Luang Prabang in its Luang Prabang Charitable Tour and assists in integrating a book party into itineraries upon individual requests.