Books for Laos (BFL) is neither an organization nor a government programme. It is a free floating project that supplements the work and funding of groups who are already dealing with the problem of providing books for children and institutions throughout the People's Democratic Republic of Laos and offers scholarships for children who do not fit into existing government programmes. Books for Laos is not registered as an NGO and is not seeking to be. It is hoped that BFL will be able to contribute directly to ongoing programmes without getting caught up in the bureaucratic chaos that is the norm when attempting to get things done in Southeast Asia.
Anyone revisiting this document will notice that the projected outputs have changed (again). 


COMPONENT ONE: Picture Books for Young Children

There is a sad shortage of reading material throughout Laos at all levels. There is especially a huge gap in the availability of books for children. In fact, most children will reach their teenage years never having owned a book in their own language. The few books available are in school libraries and are not available for borrowing.
A Japanese organization, Action for Lao Children (ALC), Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) and a project run from Luang Prabang by retired US publisher, Sasha Alyson ( have begun to address the issue of printing books for very young children.
Until recently, BFL elicited donations of picture books from publishers and distributors in other countries in larger volumes (i.e. fifty copies of one title). These books were translated into Lao, stickers were attached, and they were distributed by ALC. However the response to this programme was modest and the administration time consuming. So BFL will not continue to seek book donations from overseas. Instead we will be diverting funds to the Luang Prabang project. Sasha has already printed and distributed several thousand copies of Lao language books, written and illustrated by Lao youth.  

How You Can Help

  1. You Can Help

    1. Either make donations via me ( for details and I will pass the money on to Big Brother Mouse.
    2. Or, contribute directly to Sasha via his website
    3. If you liked the old system and have large numbers of books (of the same title) for young children or would like me to buy books locally and send them to Vientiane for translation, you can either contact me at the above email address or donate via Punnika Cotterill, Siam Commercial Bank. Swiftcode: SICOTHBK6672548202 but please email first to let us know you’re sending and what you want done with the money.

COMPONENT TWO: Thai Textbooks for Teacher’s Colleges

We are collecting used Thai high school textbooks, and buying new Thai language teaching manuals for distribution to teacher’s colleges (TTS) in the north and south of Laos. In our shipments we have included wooden educational toys procured here in Thailand for distribution to the pre-schools around the TTS.  
 How You Can Help
If you’d like to help with shipping or have us buy books here, you can send a contribution to Punnika Cotterill, Siam Commercial Bank. Swiftcode: SICOTHBK6672548202 but please email first to let us know you’re sending and what you want done with the money.

COMPONENT THREE: Manufacture and Distribution of Wooden Educational Toys.  

Sasha and I are in the process of setting up a small woodwork shop in Luang Prabang which can produce wooden toys for pre-schools around the country. As the project presently lacks woodworking equipment and carpentry expertise, this project would have to,

  1. Equip a small woodwork shop with lathe, band saw and hand tools
  2. (Through CUSO, Canadian volunteers overseas), train woodworking teachers and students in the manufacture of good quality educational toys.
  3. Come to an understanding with saw mills on the provision of free off-cuts.
  4. Provide samples of toys and training in their use in schools.
  5. Establish a distribution system for the toys. (This will be through the same network used by Room to Read)
  6. Look at a ‘for profit’ component for the workshop in order to be self sustainable in the future and to provide work for graduates of the programme.

How You Can Help
What we really need for this project is money. If you’d like to donate for a specific piece of equipment or set of tools, please contact me first by email and I’ll tell you what’s on our needs list. Then you can send your donation to Punnika Cotterill, Siam Commercial Bank. Swiftcode: SICOTHBK6672548202


 COMPONENT FOUR: Education Fund

This is a fund to provide fees for both trainee teachers and primary school aged children. We’ve opened a Thai baht bank account in the northern province of Luang Namtha, an area which hosts the highest population of minority groups in the country. Many of these communities are isolated and the children do not have access to education. An EU project based in Luang Namtha has a long-term plan to address this situation. The national programme director of this project will act as administrator of the funds we send and arrange for feedback from the children and the institutions they attend.
We currently have scholarships for nine minority students to attend TTS for three or four years. We are also hoping to provide funds for an EU residential primary school for hill tribe children in Viengphouka District to be built later this year.

How You Can Help
A one-year scholarship for one student is around $US300 although we would like to get a commitment for three to four years (teacher’s college) or five years (primary school). Please contact me here and we’ll arrange the best way of getting your money to Laos and look at your specific requirements. (

Personal Note

This isn’t the UN. There aren’t bi-annual finance records or thirty page glossy reports. It’s just me and the wife and a few well-meaning people trying to make a bit of a difference. I’m sorry that this proposal lacks concrete figures and dates. Everything ‘depends’ on what happens in the field. It’s very much a play-by-ear project. But I imagine it's through its flexibility that it will be able to work at all. I've been involved in too many projects where the proposal document took two years to approve and half the funds were siphoned off before they even started to work. So, there's nothing official about any of this. All I can promise is that any donations of books or funds will go directly to the people doing the work or the kids receiving the benefit. I wouldn't be involved in any other type of project. Of course, there's no reason why you should believe that any more than you'd believe all the money you send to UNICEF actually goes into the rice bowl of the kids in the photograph. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut...


For donors in the US
Thanks to the very kind cooperation of the Asia Foundation (AF), shipping books will be a lot easier. AF has a book donation division in San Francisco so we only need to send your donations surface mail to there. Asia Foundation will send them on to Asia Foundation Bangkok which will forward them to the national library in Laos. All absolutely free. You'll get a receipt for your donation directly from AF which is a registered charity. This receipt can be submitted to the taxation department for your tax write off.
The address is,
Books for Asia
Attn. BFL Laos Children's Book Project
Asia Foundation,
2490 Verna Court
San Leandro , CA 94577
Tel (510) 667-6475
Please be sure to slap big circled BFL signs all over your packages so they don't get rerouted to Mongolia . If you aren't clear about any of the points, feel free to get in touch.
Thank you very much for your support and cooperation.
Colin Cotterill

For donors elsewhere
If you have bulk copies of new picture books in any language, and can ship the books to Thailand, please send to Books for Thailand in Bangkok whose address is below. If you have books but no money for shipping please contact me directly so we can arrange something. Thanks.
Books for Thailand
Siam Commercial Bank Building
2nd Floor
Thai Red Cross Society Branch
Henry Dunant Road
Bangkok , 10400
Please be sure to slap big circled BFL signs all over your packages so they don't get rerouted to Mongolia . If you aren't clear about any of the points, feel free to get in

Thanks so much for even reading this far. Every little bit helps.

The Books We Have To Date
(Please feel free to add these to your wish list. English Language only. The Thai list is only in Thai)
WHERE IS THE GREEN SHEEP?       ISBN 0-15-204907-X



WOLF’S SUNDAY DINNER by Tania Cox & Greg Holfeld      ISBN 1 876288 47 7

SQUEAK STREET by Emily Rodda & Andrew McLean      ISBN 1 876288 34 5

THE SUPER PARP-BUSTER by Janeen Brian & Greg Holfeld   ISBN 1 876288 58 2

BABY, BABY by Phil Cummins & Greg Holfeld

LET'S GO VISITING by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas      ISBN 1 876288 05 1


RAINBOW RIDE      ISBN 0843105674

ALL YOUR OWN TEETH   Adrienne Geoghegan ISBN: 0747550069


Detailed information on donations and scholarships available upon request.