National Reading Day: Know about P.N. Panicker

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 19, 2023, 12:28

19th June is celebrated as National Reading Day in India to honour the Keralite teacher, P.N. Panicker. This celebration of reading did not begin until 1996. However, it has grown into a large-scale movement over the years, with many participants rejoicing, learning, imbibing, and celebrating the habit of reading. 

Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker is known as the father of the library movement in Kerala. He died on 19th June 1995, after which in 1996, National Reading Day was celebrated as a tribute to the legend. The Ministry of Education of Kerala also observes Vayana Varam (reading week) for the week between the 19th to 25th of June.

National Reading Day - P.N. Panicker's Contributions

In 1926, Panicker, who worked as a teacher in his hometown, founded the Sanadana Dalman Library. In 1945, 20 years later, he led the Travancore Library Association through Thiruvithaamkoor Granthasala Sangham, which comprised 47 local libraries. The main purpose of establishing these libraries was to emphasize the importance of local education and reading. The club's slogan is "Read and Grow," which embodies the importance of books in human life.

When the state of Kerala was founded in 1956, the association became Kerala Granthsala Sangham (SGS). Panicker managed to bring nearly 6,000 libraries to his network. The SGS received the prestigious UNESCO Krupsakaya Award in 1975. Panicker was its general secretary for 32 years before it was taken over by the state government in 1977. It then became the Kerala State Library Council, which incorporated democratic structures and funding.

After the acquisition of SGS by the state, Panicker decided to establish the Kerala Association for Non-Formal Education and Development (KANFED) in Kerala. KANFED led to the launch of a mission to improve literacy in Kerala and promoted the importance of education in rural areas.

P.N. Panicker and the Universal Literacy Rate of Kerala

After Sangham became a part of the Kerala State Library Council, Panicker was upset with political interference. In response, he founded the KANFED and contributed to the state's mission to improve literacy rates.

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Kerala's 100% universal literacy rate is primarily due to Panicker and KANFED. National Read a Book Day is thus celebrated to commemorate his remarkable contribution to the reading culture and the subsequent universal literacy rate (100%) in Kerala in 1990.

The state celebrates and praises Panicker's heritage through a week-long series of national reading day activities in schools and various public facilities.

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FAQs about National Reading Day

Q.1 When is National Reading Day celebrated in India?

The National Reading Day is celebrated on 19th June each year in India.

Q.2 How was the 25th anniversary of National Reading Day celebrated in 2020?

The week starting from 19th June onwards was celebrated as Reading Week to celebrate reading and growth. In addition, 'Reading Month' was celebrated from 19th June to 18th July. The Panicker Foundation launched online reading activities that could be officially viewed on their website. 

Q.3 What was the full name of P.N. Panicker, honoured on National Reading Day?

P.N. Panicker's full name was Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker, honoured as National Reading Day.

Q.4 Why was P.N. Panicker called the father of the library movement?

Panicker is known as the father of the library movement because he founded 47 local libraries under the Thiruvithaamkoor Granthasala Sangham or the Travancore Library Association, which was founded in 1945. In 1956, it was changed to Kerala Gran Sasara Sangam (KGS). There was also a commemorative stamp issued in his name on 21st June 2004.