Traditional Afghan tales in local languages and English inspire reading in 548 schools
San Francisco, December 20, 2012 — The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program has distributed 1.2 million children’s books in Dari, Pashto, and English. Over the span of a year and a half, these traditional Afghan folktales – published by Hoopoe Books in Los Altos, California – were distributed to 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, from Kabul to the country’s most remote and war-torn provinces.
In a country where very few children’s books are produced domestically and, according to government estimates, the adult literacy rate is 39 percent, these engaging, colorfully illustrated books fill an important need in the education of Afghanistan’s next generation. Outside of Kabul, the Hoopoe books are often the first storybooks the students have ever seen.
The books are also an important link to Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage as the stories were inspired by fables that have been passed down from generation to generation for more than a thousand years. The stories were collected and written in book form by Afghan author and educator Idries Shah.
A grant from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul enabled Hoopoe Books to commission a printer in Afghanistan to print the books in-country. These were donated to The Asia Foundation whose local Books for Asia staff distributed them province by province via van and truck.
Books for Asia puts one million brand-new books – from children’s material to university textbooks – into the hands of students, educators, and local and national leaders throughout Asia every year. In Afghanistan, the program has distributed more than 1.7 million books since 1954 from publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Wiley, W. W. Norton, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.