South Africans are encouraged to buy a book to promote a reading culture. This clarion call by the National Book Week (NBW) is dedicated to encouraging reading and promoting the importance of books in homes through the #Buyabook campaign.According to findings by the South African Book Development Council (SABDC), 58% of homes in the country do not own a single leisure reading book.“We cannot promote reading to book-scarce communities. While libraries, both in the communities and schools, play a vital role in ensuring good reading material is available, books in homes will make the difference,” said Elitha van der Sandt, chief executive officer of SABDC. “Being surrounded by books at home matters, because books enhance lifelong cognitive competencies well beyond the usual impact on literacy and numeracy.”Held annually, this year’s NBW campaign will be launched on Saturay (24/08) and will run until 8 September.The campaign marks the NBW’s decade of influence on creating awareness about South Africa’s low reading culture and the industry behind book production. The NBW initiative was launched in 2010 in response to a study commissioned by the SABDC into the book reading habits of adult South Africans. The statistics shone a light on the country’s poor reading culture. The study revealed that just 14% of South Africans actively read, while an alarming 73% of adult South Africans claimed not to be interested in books.This year, the #Buyabook campaign is supported nationally by Exclusive Books and Bargain Books. All South Africans are encouraged to buy and donate #buyabook items from the select list of titles. The books cost R20. The books can be donated at the till and dropped in the book bins prominently displayed at the stores. To keep the campaign in line with the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Language, books will also be available in indigenous languages.With this observance, The United Nations aims to raise awareness of the global endangerment of indigenous languages. “The campaign goes beyond just putting books into the hands of children. Together with the Department of Arts & Culture and the Department of Library Services in the provinces and various municipalities, we will host ten Indigenous Language Reading Festivals in far-off communities who ordinarily do not get to experience books as we do in the cities,” Van der Sandt said. For details on ways to participate in the #Buyabook campaign, visit www.sabookcouncil.co.za.