National Book Week is an annual celebration in the Philippines that runs mainly during the last week of November to encourage reading and literacy. It takes place from November 20 to 24 this year. It also pays tribute to the service of public libraries in the Philippines in promoting the activity of reading. It was first organized in 1934 by the Philippine government to arouse national interest in picking up a book, and to recognize the critical function of libraries in imparting knowledge to the people.
History of National Book Week
In 1934, the Philippine Library Association handed a petition to then Governor-General Frank Murphy to propose a celebration that promotes literacy and the library’s services to the public. In response to the Association, Murphy relented and declared the Philippines’ first National Book Week in June of that year. The date of National Book Week was only changed to its current location at the end of November in 1936.
Even though interest in reading is waning in today’s world due to teenagers’ preference for television and video games, National Book Week organizers claim it is more vital than ever. One of the goals of the holiday is to keep schoolchildren’s reading habits alive so that future generations will be able to express themselves in writing.
Essay competitions, book exhibitions, and other types of fun competitions are held by a variety of libraries and educational institutions to encourage increased public engagement. To emphasize the value of reading to young minds, the government encouraged schools to arrange trips to libraries and publishers. National Book Week drew even more attention as the Catholic Church began to actively participate in its commemoration, with priests being encouraged to offer sermons emphasizing the importance of reading books. During National Book Week in the Philippines, this tradition is still practiced.
National Book Week has been welcomed with great enthusiasm by the Filipino public since its inception, generating widespread public interest and receiving support from senior government officials. It has sparked a renewed interest in reading in the Philippines, as well as increased library visits. While it can’t be blamed on the week, the Philippines has one of Asia’s highest literacy rates, at 96.3% as of 2020, which may explain why National Book Week is a huge success across the archipelago.
National Book Week timeline
Philippines Governor-General Frank Murphy proclaims the first National Book Week.
The Philippine Library Association publishes the "Book Festival Handbook,” which is an official guide distributed to schools on how to celebrate National Book Week.
The Archbishop of Manila dedicates the Sunday of National Book Week as part of the Catholic Church's observance.
Filipino writers Amado V. Hernandez and Jose Garcia Villa become the first literary awardees of the ‘National Artist of the Philippines Order.’
Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino proclaims November as Library and Information Services Month.
National Book Week FAQs
What was the first book printed in the Philippines?
“Doctrina Christiana” was the first book printed in the Philippines, Manila, 1593.
Which country is the best at reading?
According to numerous sources, Finland is the world’s most literate nation.
Which country reads the most books?
According to Mal Warwick On Books, India leads with its citizens reading 10 hours and 42 minutes each week on average.
How to Observe National Book Week
Read those books on your shelves
You must have a lot of books on your shelves that you haven't read yet. Pick up a book and immerse yourself in it to celebrate National Book Week. You can start a new book or continue reading one you've already started. After all, it is National Book Week's fundamental objective.
Pay a visit to your local library
Libraries are honored during National Book Week. As a result, go to your local library and look over their selection. Who knows, maybe going to the library will become a new habit of yours.
Read with your children
One of National Book Week's goals is to keep children interested in reading. Read a book to your youngster to help them develop that interest. Reading with your children is also an excellent method to strengthen your relationship with them.
5 Essential Filipino Books That Are A Good Read
“Noli Me Tangere”
Philippine revolutionary Dr. Jose Rizal's 1887 book is an exquisite takedown of Spanish colonialism that helped spark the first wave of Filipino nationalism.
“Florante at Laura”
Francisco Balagtas' 1838 epic poem is a fictional love story spun around themes of socio-political equality and the virtues of justice.
“The Woman Who Had Two Navels”
Award-winning author Nick Joaquin wrote this period fiction in 1976 to depict how the consequences of the past loomed large over the post-WWII Philippines.
Lualhati Bautista's scathing 1983 fiction depicts a mother's journey to save her family from the atrocities of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
Bob Ong's absurdist 2001 autobiography shows readers a humorous, down-to-earth take on everyday life in the Philippines.
Why National Book Week is Important
It promotes the values of reading
The virtues and advantages of reading are promoted during National Book Week. The week helps many people develop a stronger interest in literature by encouraging them to start reading. Reading a variety of books can also aid in the development of expressive skills and the broadening of ideas.
It promotes bonding between loved ones
Every Filipino is encouraged to pick up a book and read during National Book Week. When done with friends or family, reading may be a fun activity. As a result, the week promotes the ability to read as a means of bringing people together.
It promotes reading as a way to develop oneself
Reading helps feed curiosity about the world and helps develop one's critical thinking skills. It ensures them that they can question those around them and form clearer thresholds on what is right and wrong. In a world increasingly inundated by misinformation — this skill is crucial.
National Book Week dates