National Book Week goes virtual due to pandemic


The annual National Book Week (NBW), will be celebrated from 7 until 13 September and will move online due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

NBW is the country’s most cherished reading awareness week dedicated to encourage reading and promote books, an initiative of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC), in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

According to a statement, the programme this year includes digital content and to-do activities, which will be presented virtually on NBW’s Facebook page, respecting the boundaries of social distancing whilst still promoting all things books, writing and creativity.

The statement further explains that new additions to the line-up include magic shows and puppet making workshops, which should find new audiences all over the country. A segment on “Stories from Africa”, led by the talented Gcina Mhlophe, is also being introduced.

CEO of SABDC, Elitha van der Sandt, said books and reading can’t cease to exist because of the pandemic. More than ever, it’s crucial that South Africa celebrates the importance of reading and books, hence they ask the country to join us in bringing more books to the people.

“Authors write books during the most catastrophic human experiences. They record and capture these moments, good and bad, which allow the reader to transcend the barriers they face in everyday life,” said Van der Sandt, adding that the theme is Fit-for-Purpose for the next decade as we emerge from the ravages of the pandemic towards the promise of a better tomorrow. The theme is interpretive, and its appeal lies not in the statement itself, but in the way it is constructed by the reader for self.

South Africans all over the country will be able to access some of the content that is usually enjoyed at the reading festivals. Furthermore, the virtual format allows NBW to  bring in more performers, more activities, and more speakers who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

Normally, NBW programmes are implemented on the ground in all provinces during the week supported by the provincial and municipal library services. NBW’s mascot, Funda Bala, will also be travelling to each province during the week, much to the delight of young and old.

Go to for more information and the programmes.