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Bringing the joy of reading in rural Laos

A local publisher plants the seeds of literacy for children

Schoolchildren in the village of Nakang read to each other. (Photo by Karlee Taylor)

LUANG PRABANG, Laos "'Lao people don't read,' that's what people said," said Khamla Panyasouk, commenting on the reaction of his countrymen back in 2006 when he started a publishing venture aimed at taking children's books to rural villages.

A January 2017 visit to the Big Brother Mouse bookshop in Luang Prabang, the capital of Laos until the communist takeover in 1975, shows that much has changed. Many of the 350 books that Khamla has published in the past decade are displayed on the shelves, from children's stories like "Bangkok Bob," about a mouse that goes to the big city for the first time, to traditional Laotian folk tales and nonfiction titles.

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