Logo of Big Brother Mouse, publishing books in Laos

Book parties, book exchanges, and art contests

In addition to publishing books, Big Brother Mouse works with other community groups to promote literacy, and to find innovative ways to get books into the hands of readers.

one puts books in the hospital cart Hospital waiting rooms: People from around the province, and sometimes from outside, come to the hospital in Luang Prabang. We regularly donate books to the three hospital waiting rooms. It's often the first chance these families have to look at a book together. Inevitably, some books disappear, but donations allow us to replace them.

Book swaps: For children who are not used to seeing books outside of school and who don't have access to libraries, the notion of borrowing books is new. When we first opened our storefront we created a book swap to let local children borrow books. They could read them, return them, pick out a new book, and in the process learn about the value of taking care of books so that others can enjoy reading them as well.

That served as a model and testing ground for similar exchanges in rural Lao villages, which we put in place at the end of each book party.

Art contests: Big Brother Mouse encourages not only readers, but also Lao writers and artists. Working with the Children's Cultural Center, we've held drawing contests to celebrate creativity, and to identify and help develop the talents of young local artists. The winners of our contests have all been asked to illustrate books for Big Brother Mouse.

Lao fonts and keyboard: The most common computer keyboard layout in Laos evolved from Lao typewriter layouts, which in turn evolved from Thai typewriter layouts. The two alphabets are quite different, and the layout that resulted from this is inefficient for Lao computer use. A variety of incompatible systems have also been created for storing Lao input on a computer, but none work smoothly with desktop publishing. We've evolved our own system that makes it much easier to publish books and other documents. If you are publishing in Laos, or are simply preparing documents in Lao, and would like a better system, we are happy to share this system.

"Thank you very much for your great Alo Font system, which allowed me to layout our elephant care manual so easily! It is the first time in 12 years that have been able to use Lao fonts with our Adobe software. Well done!" - Sebastian, Elefantasia Project