I just returned from Cambodia and Burma full of new story ideas for children. On my three-week trip, I had plenty of opportunity to meet and visit with local people on farms, in cities and in small villages. Some spoke English and with others, I conversed through out guide. There were several highlights: In Rangoon, we visited a local family in a small area of the city full of old, traditional wooden houses. Alighting from out bus, we were followed down narrow streets by an excited group of local children and adults to the family’s home. Our conversation with them was lively, and we learned much about their lifestyle and enjoyed tea with sticky rice treats. I hope to write a story about such a family in my next children’s book.
Further north, we visited an elementary school and watched children doing an English lesson, listened to them performing a song for us and answered questions about America. I left several of my own children’s books in English with them, including “The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake”. Although the Burmese usually do not celebrate birthdays as we do with cakes and gifts, I felt it would be interesting for these children to see how we celebrate birthdays. And, of course, they will have an opportunity to read some books written in English for American children.
As I usually do on such trips, I purchased several books written for Cambodian children in English to give to my own grandchildren so they can learn more about other cultures and places. In reading these books, I learned that while there are obviously differences in culture and lifestyle, many of the stories have some of the same themes and plot lines as those written for American children. I also learned that Burmese and Cambodian children love to blow kisses. Beryl Reichenberg