Children's Books project

Idries Shah wrote a series of charming and captivating stories for his own children. These are being produced by the Idries Shah Foundation as richly-illustrated children’s books. So far, the series comprises six titles – including Speak First and Lose, The Tale of the Sands, and The Onion – and six more titles will join the collection in 2022. Our aim is to inspire a whole new generation with these stories and provide them for free to children in deprived societies.

Nutrition for young minds

These aren’t your garden-variety picture books. Fun and entertaining, yet infused with Aesopian wisdom, our children’s books enshrine – in their characters, plots and imagery – patterns and relationships which increase our understanding, flexibility, and breadth of vision.

Idries Shah’s daughter, Safia, refers to the books as ‘seed bombs of ideas’.  She has spent the past few years lovingly breathing new life into these stories. Her choice of internationally-renowned illustrators – including Indo-Canadian Prashant Miranda and Dublin-based Carol Betera – has ensured each title inspires the sense of imagination that lies within us all.

New books and distribution

With six new titles due for publication in 2022 – get ready to feast your eyes on The Tale of Melon City and the timeless Mushkil Gusha – the Idries Shah Foundation will make all our children’s books available in paperback. As always, they will also remain available to read for free on our website.

Books for refugees

The charity will also be ramping up its distribution programme. With generous support from donors, we plan to donate thousands of copies to Afghans who have recently fled Afghanistan as well as members of other refugee diasporas making new lives in the West. We will also continue to donate our books to children in deprived societies – just as we did recently though Access Books in the USA, providing 1,000 copies to the children of Compton, Los Angeles. In this way, we hope to help inspire a love of books and reading, but also to help children living in modern, complex urban societies deal with the many challenging issues they face.

Books for Afghanistan

Sadly we have been forced to pause all work in Afghanistan due to the recent collapse of the government and the oppressive Taliban takeover. However, we plan to start providing books to Afghan children in Pakistan in 2022. We thank all those who have so generously given to our Books for Afghanistan programme and can assure you that your donations will be put to excellent use!

Safia Shah

Safia Shah

Safia, who has been responsible for creating ISF's children's books, is a writer, entrepreneur and former TV producer. She published her first book, Afghan Caravan, when she was in her early twenties and has since established herself as an accomplished short story writer. Her latest collection, Twice Sifted, focuses on stress-induced anxiety and the many ways in which it is manifested in the characters' lives. Safia has also met with considerable success in business. She and her husband, Ian, founded A. Gold in Spitalfields, a delicatessen selling traditional British products; they have since gone on to found an award-winning design workshop and cafe in Somerset where children use recycled materials to make wonderful creations of their own.