The next leg of our trip to the Xieng Khouang Province starts tomorrow, Friday, August 22nd. We will mostly focus on visiting the preschool that we have successfully raised funds to build in Lathsene Village.
Yesterday we started to prepare for that trip by going to a local children’s bookstore that publishes locally. The bookstore is called ‘Big Brother Mouse’. They specialize on children’s books written in Lao, including many Lao fables. It was a little store with just two bookshelves pushed up against the side walls. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was enriching. This was confirmed when four young boys about 5 years old walked into the bookstore.
They were regulars. Yet when they saw us, they hesitated to stay, and soon moved towards the door. The shopkeeper, who apparantly also illustrates some of the books, had put aside a small section for reading only and told us that the boys come daily to read.
I gestured for the boys to come back in and do what they normally do, and not mind us. They ran in, handled the books, and talked excitedly with one another. It was such a sweet moment to witness, especially knowing that kids in Laos lack resources and support to read stories and novels. Most of their reading is limited to schoolbooks.
So I offered to buy them each a book. I think they responded to me because I spoke Lao, like any other big sister would to them. I asked them in Lao if they would like a book each to take home. With big eyes open wide, they all nodded yes.
They took their time in choosing the book, although it seemed they knew the content of each already. After the purchase, we took a picture in front of the store by the poster of the big mouse, the store mastcot. They each said thank you in Lao, gestured with both hands in prayer position, and ran off excitedly, one after the other.