National Book Week


National Book Week is a the most recognized reading promotion campaign in South Africa. It is implemented by the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) in partnership with the Department Of Arts and Culture. National Book Week was initiated in 2010. It aims to mitigate the findings of a 2006 study, repeated in 2016. The studies, when compared, showed a disturbing increase in the number of households in South Africa that do not own a single leisure reading book. Fifty-one per cent in 2006 to Fifty-eight per cent in 2016. Only fourteen percent of the population are committed readers. This number has not changed over the decade.

However, the findings also show that there are nonetheless 1.1 million new book readers in 2016 compared to 2006 and that there are 3.8 million potential book readers. The SABDC, with your assistance, would like to see more people reading and buying books.

Reading and literacy are at the heart of personal growth, community development and a thriving nation. Having as few as 20 books in the home is proven to have a significant impact in propelling a child to higher levels of education.

Furthermore, children who read are able to easily transcend hurdles often imposed by the low educational levels of their parents, their community’s economics or the political systems of their country.

Books in a home have a strong effect on children’s educational attainment even above and beyond such factors as the educational level of parents, the country’s GDP, parent’s occupation or the political system of the country. There are many other benefits of reading such as:

  • Improving imagination
  • Increasing intelligence
  • Boosting brainpower
  • Building vocabulary
  • Increasing productivity
  • Improving cultural diversity and social cohesion
  • Economic empowerment


The Honorable Minister of Art and Culture, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa explains his support for National Book Week. “The importance of reading in order to achieve success in life is foundational for the individual and essential for nation building and social cohesion. The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy recognises the power of the book sector to contribute to job creation, poverty reduction, skills development and, above all, economic growth. Thus as such, the National Book Week is a strategic intervention to promote a reading culture that will enhance the prominence and socio-economic impact of the South African books sector both locally and globally.”

NBW is aimed at uncovering the thrill and magic of reading books. It is guided by the idea that when the nation learns to share the joy of reading books, the country as a whole benefits as this leads to empowered, self reliant communities.All events promote a key message to encourage reading as a fun activity with each province or location tailoring the programme to meet local demands with a strong focus on promoting indigenous languages, local authors as well as library awareness and access.


The event reaches a diverse audience during visits across the country. Pre-schoolers, learners from Grade R –12, youth, adults and even the elderly from the communities and related sectors participate in the various programme activities. Visits to certain locations further involve offenders, youth-at-risk, as well as abandoned and abused children. People living with disabilities are also welcomed to participate as programme activities are designed to accommodate visually impaired, audio impaired and physically disabled audiences.

This annual campaign of the SABDC is aimed at uncovering the thrill and magic of reading books. It is guided by the idea that when the nation learns to share the joy of reading books, the country as a whole benefits as this leads to empowered, self reliant communities.

Reading and books are a fundamental right and necessity for everyone. NBW, therefore, plays a pivotal role in helping to shape the future of our country.

Key Objectives

  • To promote reading as a critical part of South African development
  • To celebrate books as instruments for education, culture, heritage and economic progress
  • To showcase and increase indigenous language publishing
  • To showcase South African and African writers, publishers, booksellers and related businesses
  • To raise the profile of the South African book industry with emphasis on SMMEs
  • To form partnerships with other African countries celebrating NBW
  • To create national awareness via various media channels