the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchangethe Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange

Who We Are

Photo of a man reading to children in Mexico

The Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange (ICE) is a Canadian charity dedicated to promoting cross-cultural education. It encourages learning about other cultures and understanding between them. Our current priority is to donate high quality illustrated folk tales from the Middle East and Central Asia to literacy programs helping children in need.

ICE is administered and staffed entirely by volunteers. This means that at least 95% of donated funds go toward the printing and shipping of books for disadvantaged children.

ICE is administered and staffed entirely by volunteers. This means that 100% of donated funds go toward the printing and shipping of books for disadvantaged children.

In response to the Canadian literacy crisis and the renewed emphasis among educators and psychologists on the critical role of reading in child development, ICE volunteers conducted a survey of family and children’s literacy programs across Canada.

We learned that literacy programs for disadvantaged children suffer from a severe and ongoing shortage of high quality books. These programs could easily distribute 50,000 books, annually to children who otherwise would have little or no other access to them. Many of these children would have never owned a book.

While conducting our literacy survey, Hoopoe Books for Children came to our attention. Started in 1998, Hoopoe is an educational non-profit publisher whose catalogue includes an award-winning series of eleven traditional children's stories from Afghanistan, collected by Afghan author Idries Shah. These beautifully illustrated books are a perfect fit for ICE's objectives in cross-cultural education and contain universal themes that resonate with children and adults on a number of levels.

The unique qualities of Hoopoe’s books, their experience in literacy programs, and their agreement to sell their books to ICE at cost, made Hoopoe an obvious partner of choice. This arrangement made it feasible to donate books in large quantities to Canadian children in need.