Hoopoe’s publishing program began in 1998 with a series of 11 traditional teaching stories from Central Asia and the Middle East, collected and adapted for children by the author and educator Idries Shah and now available in paperback and eBook editions.
In 2021, we were very pleased to welcome Idries Shah’s daughter, Safia Shah, to our Board of Directors and to announce a partnership between Hoopoe Books and Kashfi’s Children, a U.K. community interest company she founded and directs. This collaboration enables Hoopoe to co-publish, promote and sell additional children’s teaching stories authored by Idries Shah, and to provide them free of charge to at-risk children throughout the world.
These traditional stories have been commended by Western educators and psychologists, the U.S. Library of Congress, National Public Radio and other news media for their unique ability to foster social-emotional development, thinking skills and higher-level perception in children and adults alike.
In the past 30 years or so, we have seen time and time again the power of gifting a book to a child who is facing adversity. One who has perhaps lost their home and their belongings, forced to flee with next to nothing.
For displaced people, the power of a book in one’s own language is extraordinarily strong.
By offering a book in their own language, we are not only acknowledging their cultural identity, we are also extending a hand of welcome and acceptance.
Stories are borderless, powerful ambassadors that cross between cultures and communities, connecting us and bringing understanding.
“My Ukrainian family loved the books, one little girl just read them over and over again. They made her feel loved.” – UK host to a Ukrainian refugee family
“They [teaching stories] suggest ways of looking at difficulties that can help children solve problems calmly while, at the same time, giving them fresh perspectives on these difficulties that help them develop their cognitive abilities.”
“These stories … are not moralistic fables or parables, which aim to indoctrinate, nor are they written only to amuse. Rather, they are carefully designed to show effective ways of defining and responding to common life experiences.”
“Educating the whole child is not a new idea. It is rooted in the writings and teachings of many ancient cultures. Yet, achieving the kind of balance that encourages all children to learn, work and contribute to their fullest potential has been a continuing challenge as our world has grown more complex and our communities more fragmented.”
“Our experiences show that, while reading Idries Shah’s stories can help children with reading and writing, the stories can also help them transcend fixed patterns of emotion and behaviour which may be getting in the way of learning and emotional well-being too. … We’ve found that this strategy can be particularly powerful, especially when change may be resistant to appeals to reason alone. By flying under the radar of emotion and analytical thinking, the patterns contained within a story can shift children’s perspective, to let them ‘own’ the meaning for themselves.”
“These enchanting stories Shah has collected have a richness and depth not often encountered in children’s literature, and their effect on minds young and old can be almost magical.”
“In this tradition, the line between stories for children and those for adults is not as clear as it seems to be in Western cultures, and the lessons are important for all generations.”
“… these are vibrant, engaging, universal stories … they not only entertain, but can be understood on many different levels and provide a form of ‘nourishment for the brain’ that can help develop thinking abilities and perceptions.”
“…a series of children’s books that have captivated the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life. The books are tales from a rich tradition of story telling from Central Asia and the Middle East. Stories told and retold to children, by campfire and candlelight, for more than a thousand years. Through repeated readings, these stories provoke fresh insight and more flexible thought in children. Beautifully illustrated.”
“Shah’s versatile and multilayered tales provoke fresh insight and more flexible thought in children.”