Hoopoe Books

"Repatriating" traditional stories from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the surrounding region, Hoopoe Books provides beautifully illustrated books, teacher guides, and teacher training to encourage literacy for all ages. These traditional tales foster social-emotional and cognitive development, engaging readers with multiple levels of meaning.

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting

Location Data

All 34 Afghan provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and others throughout PakistanKabul and major cities throughout AfghanistanPeri-Urban, Rural, UrbanUnited States of AmericaPakistan

Hoopoe Books is an initiative of the U.S. based non-profit, the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK). With the help of volunteers, donors, and grants to cover costs, Hoopoe Books donates to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout Central Asia. It also provides books to many thousands of street children. 

Products and Offerings | The stories in Hoopoe books were selected and written especially for children by the Afghan author Idries Shah, who spent over 30 years collecting hundreds of such tales. The Hoopoe Books curriculum and the stories themselves emphasize higher-level thinking skills: critical, inferential and analogical thinking, and social and emotional development. The Hoopoe program also seeks to help readers develop perception skills. For instance, its stories aim to alleviate the influence of extremism, since the thought patterns developed through familiarity with these tales help to foster a flexibility of mind that is incompatible with extremist beliefs. In addition to books, the program provides school supplies, mp3 and CD audio readings for each edition, teacher training and self-explanatory classroom Teacher Guides. Through its training program, teachers learn to use the well-researched strategies developed in the West combined with their own traditional tales to teach literacy and thinking-skills in all genres: fiction, informational texts, and poetry. They come to understand the limitations of rote learning and become comfortable asking children questions, encouraging them to come to their own conclusions.

Family Literacy | A 2010 study involving 70,000 students from 27 countries shows that having books in the home is as good a predictor of children’s educational attainment as parents’ education levels, occupations or living standards. It has the most impact on the least educated and poorest families. Children who own Hoopoe Books often share them with their friends and read them to their siblings and parents, thus initiating family literacy. In addition, by providing their own traditional stories in book form, the Hoopoe program helps to make school acceptable even among the older more conservative community members, many of whom remember these stories from their own childhood. 

Hoopoe Books for Afghanistan (BFA) | The need to increase literacy is vital for Afghanistan as it struggles to ensure stability, autonomy and peace for all its people. After thirty years of war, Afghan children know little of their rich history and culture. BFA seeks to “repatriate” Afghanistan’s own traditional tales in book form to develop family literacy and reinvigorate the nation's ancient storytelling tradition. The stories form a bridge between the more conservative elders, who may well remember them, and the younger generation, who needs to become literate in order to fully participate in a modern Afghanistan. BFA stories are published in bilingual Dari-Pashto and English-only paperback editions. Early in 2009 BFA partnered with Dr. Farid Bazger, president of Khatiz Organization for Rehabilitation (KOR) in Kabul, to print and distribute its books throughout the country.

Hoopoe Books for Pakistan (BFP) | BFP launched in 2011 following the model of its companion initiative, BFA. BFP provides bilingual English and Urdu editions of BFA stories. In partnership with the Alif Laila Book Bus Society, BFP seeks to distribute its books to over one million disadvantaged children currently served by Alif Laila's extensive network of schools and mobile libraries. BFP also partners with Developments in Literacy (DIL) in order to distribute books within its network of 150 schools serving approximately 15,000 children, especially girls, throughout underdeveloped regions of Pakistan.


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