American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist Carl Sagan said: “A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic.”
Beautiful words to describe a beautiful thing – the book. This week is National Book Week in South Africa. Now into its fifth year, National Book Week 2014 will see one of the longest running and most successful reading campaigns in South Africa travel to six of our nine provinces, reflecting the magic of books and how reading can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take you places.
A sad fact for South Africa is that more than 50% of households do not have a single book in their home. Countless children and adults have not had the magic of books in their lives beyond textbooks. The South African Book Development Council in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture to attempting to change this through the annual National Book Week.
For those of us who have had the privilege of reading, touching, holding and paging through a book will know the benefit that it brings. It brings a richness that is unparalleled. Reading can open us to a world that no amount of travel could ever do.
Let us work together to take some South Africans to a place they may never have been: inside a book.