Afghan Children’s Songbook Project

CW4WAfghan has awarded four grants of $10,000 each over the years, to support the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project.

These grants have covered printing costs, as well the design and production of Book Three: Bood Nabood – Traditional Afghan Children’s Folktales, a compilation of six short stories, three in Dari and three in Pashto, collected from local story-tellers and literacy figures to ensure authenticity and accuracy. As with the two previous songbooks produced by The Songbook Project, the book of folktales also has an accompanying Teacher’s Guide to provide Afghan teachers with specific innovative and engaging strategies for using the stories to build reading comprehension and sequencing as well as strengthening other important literacy skills. CW4WAfghan distributes all three books to schools, libraries and literacy classes across Afghanistan.

Deliverables of Project: 

  • Print 5000 folktale books and 2500 teacher’s guides to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan
  • Distribute 5000 folktale books and 2500 teacher’s guides to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan, particularly serving the most underserved communities.
  • Provide teachers with materials and strategies that will help them more effectively improve the reading and writing skills of their young students.
  • Provide young children and their families exposure to the rich folk culture of Afghanistan by distributing books filled with traditional Afghan children’s folktales. 
  • Collect data about the impact of using folktale books to improve basic literacy skills

Louise Pascale, a United States Peace Corps volunteer, lived in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1966 and worked with Afghan poets and musicians to create a children’s songbook to be distributed to the schools in Kabul. Once she collected the songs, she traveled to schools and taught them to the children and had them draw pictures to go with each song. In 1968 the songbook with the children’s illustrations was published by the Kabul Press. In 2003, Louise found her worn and faded copy of the songbook in her bookcase and realized, due to the turmoil and strife that had afflicted Afghanistan, that most likely her copy of the songbook was the only one left in existence. She made a commitment to return the songs back to the children of Afghanistan.

In 2016, funding was provided to reprint and distribute the songbooks to schools, orphanages and women and family centers across Afghanistan in order to strengthen cultural ties, preserve these important traditional songs and enhance basic literacy. Primary beneficiaries of the project are young Afghan children, ages 4-9, in pre-schools, elementary schools and orphanages across Afghanistan.

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“We are very grateful for CW4WAfghan, who values this project and is willing to provide the essential support it takes to make the goals of the project a reality. Music holds a prominent role in culture, an assumption many people take for granted. For the Afghans, music disappeared for over 2 decades, and as one Afghan so poignantly stated, “when they took our music, they took our souls.” The Afghan Children’s Songbook & Literacy project strives to not only return this valuable musical heritage back to Afghan children and their families, but to use these wonderfully rich traditional songs to enhance basic literacy skills.

Louise Pascale, Founder and Director of the Afghan Children’s Songbook & Literacy Project

“THANKS A MILLION for giving me a piece of my lost past back. It meant soooooooooo MUCH to me that my children can listen to the songs from my kindergarten time. Of course, I sang some of the songs to them when they were babies, but this CD is something else!” 

R. Hakimi (former Afghan Ambassador’s wife)

“Before receiving the songbook we did not have such kind of book in our kindergarten to teach our students. This project provided the songbooks to Kunduz province Kindergarten and more than 1,000 children have benefited from it and these kids really loved and enjoyed singing it. The songbooks really brought smiles and happiness to many children’s face in this province and we are really thankful for all of those people who initiated this project. All the songs in this collection are very unique and old songs, I am about 50 years old and I remember it very clearly that when we were young children we sang these songs while playing with other children in school; but unfortunately the war in Afghanistan not only destroyed the country but also destroyed and vanished these songs collections. When I first saw and heard the songs it felt very good and I remembered all those happy times that I had with my friends 40 years ago.Another unique thing about this songbook collection is that it has songs from different ethnic groups of Afghanistan in different languages; that really makes this songbook a unique book. We teach these songs to all children in our kindergarten and sometime they perform it on local and national events. I hope the project will continue and we will receive these songbooks in the future and I hope that you can provide these songbooks to all the children all over Afghanistan.” 

F. W. Meraj, Head of Kunduz Kindergarten Department

Hoopoe Books

The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge has a goal to publish books that both entertain and help children and young adults understand themselves and their world.

In Afghanistan, Hoopoe has published a series of bilingual children’s books in Dari, Pashto, English and several minority languages of Afghanistan.

CW4WAfghan distributes their books in schools and libraries across Afghanistan, and we funded the first print run of a Pashai-Pashto edition of one of their storybooks. The grant supported translating, printing and distributing 3,000 Pashai-Pashto editions of one Hoopoe title to Pashai-speaking children in Afghanistan. The goals of this project are to improve literacy, school readiness and educational outcomes among Pashai-speaking children in Afghanistan and to cultivate pride and recognition of Afghan minority languages and Afghan multilingualism through the publication of minority language texts.