Did you Know?


73% of South Africans over the age of 16 are not interested in reading books.

That is 27.8 million.


29.5% of South Africans over the age if 16 never read for leisure.

That is 11.2 million.


Reading is a powerful tool against inequality and poverty. When children read for pleasure, this has a greater effect on their educational achievement than their family’s socio-economic status.

That is 11.2 million.


June is celebrated as Audiobook Appreciation Month. The South African Library for the Blind provides reading materials in formats accessible to the visually impaired..


Only 14% of South African’s over the age of 16 are committed book readers.

That is 5.3 million.


Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on propelling a child towards higher levels of education.


6% of South African Adults report physical barriers to reading such as visual impairment.


58% of South African households do not have a single leisure book in their homes.


Two of the barriers readers in South African have highlighted are:
1. lack of time and
2. lack of nearby libraries


The usage of libraries is highest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and lowest in the Free State and the North West.


41% of library visitors are members of a library.


English is the language that most South African adults claim to be reading in. Few cite preferring to read in their home (African) language.


64% of South Africans prefer reading in English, 19% in Nguni languages, 5% in Sotho and 11% in Afrikaans.


According to South Africans, time is a bigger barrier to reading than cost

‘read, read’

Funda Bala means ‘read, read’ in the Nguni and Sotho languages.

Book Week

In South Africa, National Book Week takes place during the first week of September every year. This is a dedicated week reserved for the promotion of books and reading.


Books are part of a larger collection of print material, including newspapers and magazines. These materials are produced by the newspaper, magazine, and book publishing industries respectively.


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


In 2016 eBooks made up only 2% of books sold in South Africa.


People are reluctant to join a library because they have no time and are not interested.


Launched in 2010, National Book Week is the longest running and most recognised reading promotion campaign in South African history.

Funda Bala

Funda Bala is the National Book Week reading promotion mascot.

1 in 3

1 in 3 South Africans with children in the home mainly use educational material when they read to their children in the evenings.

language skills

The better a child’s language skills, the greater their chance of future academic success, educational achievement, employment and income.


Educational publishers in South Africa publish books in all 11 official languages.


National Book Week was set up in response to a 2007 study, commissioned by the SABDC, into the book reading habits of adult South Africans.


Funda Bala, the National Book Week SA mascot, has travelled to Kakamas, Matjiesfontein, Itsoseng, Uitenhage, Umzimkhulu, Polokwane and Johannesburg communities in 2017 and visited all 9 provinces in South Africa.


Without textbooks, the education system in any country will collapse. Next to the teacher, the textbook is the most important asset in South Africa’s education system.


There are 51 university presses in Africa, spread across 22 countries.

30 million

In 2017, publishers supplied more than 30 million books to education departments and schools across South Africa.

South Africa

South Africa has the largest indigenous scholarly publishing sector on the African continent.


Editors ensure that children can read and understand their textbooks. They use active sentences, limit the length of sentences and choose vocabulary carefully.

read more about our programmes – here.