Textiles & Books: What's the Connection?

In 2007, when we first visited Luang Prabang, a UNESCO world heritage town in northern Laos, we discovered Big Brother Mouse. We write often about this exciting social enterprise, a Lao-owned and -run book publishing venture that makes reading and literacy fun for kids.

We sell textiles, handwoven by women in rural Laos and Thailand. We do this to help women support their families, communities and traditions. And to share their beautiful, naturally dyed textiles with women (and men) in North America. We follow fair trade principles, as set out by the World Fair Trade Organization. Part of our work is to support community development.

TAMMACHAT also supports women and communities by helping Big Brother Mouse bring books to girls in their village schools. This is especially important to us because girls don't have the opportunity to go to temple schools, which some boys can attend if there is no school in their village.

Education will help these girls have more choices. If they want to weave, great. If they want to become teachers or doctors, great. Reading will help them do this and will help them help their families.

But it also opens up worlds to children that spark their imaginations and creativity.

How does TAMMACHAT help? 

We donate a book to a child in Laos through Big Brother Mouse for every textile piece we sell online and at our shows. Our books are delivered through a "book party," a 3-hour event in a village school. You help us sponsor book parties by buying our textiles. Thank you.

Big Brother Mouse expands

Recently, we got an email update from Big Brother Mouse:
"This year, we’ve been doing follow-up talks with teachers at schools where we held book parties and left a mini-library of 80 books for the school.
In a nutshell: What happens following the book party is much better than we’d dared hope. Teachers report higher attendance, better graduation rates from early grades, higher participation, and better reading levels. So now, we’re planning an expansion, with a daily “Silent Reading” program."
Big Brother Mouse is making a difference, reducing literacy in one of the poorest countries in SE Asia and fostering a love of reading. They have now published more than 250 colourful, illustrated books and had got these -- for free -- into the hands of more than 160,000 children.

Visit Big Brother Mouse online to be inspired. Sponsor a book party yourself. Support the publication of a new book. Or volunteer teaching English at Big Brother Mouse's office in Luang Prabang if you travel to Laos.

Help open up the world through fostering a love of reading through Big Brother Mouse.