the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange; Help with Literacy
The Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange is a Canadian charity dedicated to promoting cross-cultural education and literacy. It encourages learning about other cultures and understanding between them. How to Apply for Books. There is growing recognition among educators that the Teaching-Stories collected and written for children by Idries Shah and published by Hoopoe Books are uniquely effective in the development of reading, language, and thinking skills. We have formed partnerships to provide children in Afghanistan with desperately needed books for distribution to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout the country to promote literacy.
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Welcome to the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange (ICE)/
Institut d'échanges interculturels (IEI)

Established in Calgary in 2004, ICE is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy and cross-cultural education, at home and abroad. Our current priority is to donate high quality illustrated books featuring stories from the Middle East and Central Asia to literacy programs serving children in need.

Our literacy focus grew from a survey we conducted in 2004 in which we learned that Canadian literacy programs for disadvantaged children suffer from a severe and ongoing shortage of high quality books. Current requests from our Canadian partners reveal a need for at least 50,000 books annually.

In 2010 ICE began distributing Dari-Pashto editions of the same books to schools, orphanages and NGOs in desperate need in Afghanistan.

In just thirteen years ICE has donated free of charge over 221,000 books. More than 80 Canadian non-profit literacy groups will have received over 120,000 books, 6 partner organizations in Afghanistan over 100,000 books, and our partner organization in Mexico 1140 books.


We couldn't help so many Afghan children without our wonderful donors and supporters. Thanks to you, we were able to send 21,000 Hoopoe books in January 2017 to Afghan Mobile Mini Circus who distributed them to children in Kabul and Nangarhar provinces.
Apr 5, 2017

In January 2017, we delivered 12,500 copies of The Farmers Wife by Idries Shah to 27 literacy organizations serving children across Canada. HUGE THANK YOU’S to Key Food Equipment Services for generously donating their warehouse space & to volunteers Stephanie Bogaert, Anthony Fuller, Ben Fuller, Tess Fuller & Shawn Fuller who stickered and labelled all those books for shipping. “When I saw the smiles on their faces, I realized that the books made a real difference to the children, their families & educators.” Elsa Ngan, Family Literacy & Adult Learning Program Coordinator, ASSIST Community Services Centre Edmonton Alberta.
Feb 9, 2017

We’ve posted three new Youtube videos below featuring author Tahir Shah who was in Toronto last spring for the storytelling festival. Tahir discusses the unique qualities and uses of stories collected by his father, Idries Shah and how they can help develop Afghan children and their country.
Tahir Shah 1 Children’s stories as instruction manuals to the world
Tahir Shah 2 Repatriating Afghan Stories to Afghan Children
Tahir Shah 3 Stories as an ancient psychological framework
Oct 4, 2016

Kingston Literacy and Skills thanks ICE for donating books to children and their families in Kingston ON and vicinity. Read more.
June 9, 2016

Burnside Gorge Community Associaton thanks ICE for donating books to children and their families in Victoria B.C. Read more.
April 25, 2016

YWCA thanks ICE for donating books to low-income families with diverse needs in Vancouver. Read more.
Feb. 25, 2016

We are saddened by the loss Iain Marrs, our good friend and longtime volunteer. He was brilliant and kind; a wonderful man.
Sep. 25, 2015

ICE has donated 100 books to the Richmond Christmas Fund in BC. A picture of one of our books is shown with one of the Richmond volunteers in the article in The Richmond Review by Mathew Hoekstra. (See photo of one of the donated books on the right.)
Dec. 10, 2014

In the fall of 2013 we delivered 1500 teachers' guides to Afghan schools together with 10,000 Dari-Pashtun & English language Editions of Hoopoe Books to children in Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces. (See photo on lower right.) We also donated 10,000 English editions to Canadian children and 500 Spanish editions to Mexican children in Cuernavaca.
Feb. 1, 2014

Watch a reading, by one of our literacy partners, of Idries Shah’s The Silly Chicken - one of the beautifully illustrated books ICE donates to disadvantaged kids. Also see the accompanying video of Tips and Tricks for using the book. These videos come courtesy of Susan Ramsay at Kingston Literacy & Skills.
March 30, 2013

Canadian newspaper praises teaching stories for children, calling them “rich in characters, plots and imagery”. Read more.
Feb. 16, 2013

National group of concerned citizens runs a story about ICE’s work to bridge the alarming literacy gap in Canada. Read more.
December, 2012

Read a fascinating and inspiring thank you letter from an Ontario school that received a donation of 300 of our books. Read more.
June 19, 2012


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News for children's literacy.
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Mobile Site for Literacy

Volunteer in Surrey loading books by Afghan author Idries Shah for children's literacy

ICE volunteers in Surrey, BC packing books to send to partner organizations

Afghan Mobile Mini Circus

Afghan Mobile Mini Circus distributing books to children in Kabul and Nangarhar provinces
(See LATEST NEWS on left.)

Volunteer loading books by Afghan author Idries Shah for children's literacy

January 2017
ICE volunteers in BC packing
"The Farmer's Wife" to send to partner organizations
(See LATEST NEWS on left.)


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Visit ICEVideo on YouTube - Share Literacy Richmond Christmas Fund donation

One of donated Hoopoe books to Richmond Christmas Fund
(See LATEST NEWS on left.)

Afghan book donation

Reading donated Hoopoe book in Afghanistan
(See LATEST NEWS on left.)