The Book Boats

The Book Boat

There are two CLI “book boats” taking Lao books to villages along the Mekong River and its tributaries. The boats serve children in more than 100 riverside villages, who otherwise would never have books in their hands. Each boat normally goes out for two weeks to a month each trip.

The boats carry more than 1,000 books each. They typically arrive at a village in the morning and the village primary school is dismissed for the day to allow students to read nonstop.

Hearing the boat, students rush eagerly to the riverbank. They go aboard in shifts to choose books, then sit nearby and read intently, then repeat the process. Boat staff organize active learning games for part of the day, games that emphasize the importance and fun of reading.

The boat stays overnight at the village and children continue to borrow books well past dark, to be read by candlelight at home. In the morning the books are collected and the boat goes to the next village.

The boats also circulate around nearly 100 “book bags” of 100 titles each, leaving them with selected primary schools and periodically swapping them so readers have new titles.

CLI had planned to expand the project with another boat in 2012 and had a pledge of funding.

But the new boat plan is on hold while CLI attention is directed first at finding needed funding to maintain all core education activities, before expanding the boats project.

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