ABOUT THE BOOK COUNCIL
The Book Council is a charity founded in 1968 to address literacy issues in Singapore. That mission has since evolved into encouraging and supporting local content creation through writing, reading, illustrating and storytelling. The Book Council’s vision is focused on Building Our Imagine-nation by developing creativity, imagination and original thought.
The Book Council supports the community at all levels, from language programmes for children, to aspiring individuals and professionals like writers, illustrators, storytellers and relevant industry partners by providing a platform to learn, network and collaborate. It also organises events to foster professional and community engagement like the annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content and All In! Young Writers Festival, and grants prestigious awards, like the Singapore Literature Prize, to recognise and encourage excellence. Finally, The Book Council offers publishing-related and literary arts-focused courses and workshops to enhance skills and encourage lifelong learning through its training arm, the Singapore Book Council Academy.
The Book Council aims to become a hub for Asian content for the world, encouraging stories to be created and told across platforms. Through telling local stories by writing or illustrations, it promotes understanding, determines legacy and connects Asia with the world.
It all starts with a story.
To develop and promote Singapore’s books and literary arts sector
To serve the community of professionals in the books and literary arts sector and be a platform for them to network, learn and collaborate to achieve global recognition
- To continually build the skill-set of professionals in the books and literary arts sector
- To give awards and recognition to encourage excellence
- To organise programmes and festivals to raise professional and community engagement
- To network with relevant local stakeholders and agencies to foster fellowship and enhance support
- To network with relevant stakeholders and agencies to increase the global footprint of our community
The ‘Y’ lines of the logo symbolise an open book both in print and in electronic format. The rainbow colours represent the colours and imagination of the reading, writing and publishing experience as well as the new directions and the renewed dynamism of the council.
HISTORY OF THE BOOK COUNCIL
The Book Council can trace its origins to the inaugural UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Meeting of Experts on Book Production and Distribution in Asia held in Tokyo, Japan, in May 1966, during which a proposal was made to establish national book development councils across Asia.
In the mid-1960s, the UNESCO continued to hold a series of regional meetings in Asia, Africa, the Arab States and Latin America to assess long-term book needs, and to assist in working out national policies and strategies to overcome book hunger. It was at these meetings that UNESCO further encouraged the formation of national book development councils to play a key role in promoting and coordinating all areas of book development activity in harmony with overall national development.
On 19 December 1968, the Book Council was finally registered as a non-profit, charitable organisation, and was formally inaugurated on 13 February 1969 by the then Minister for Culture, Mr Jek Yeun Thong, with 12 members representing government and non-government educational, cultural, publishing, printing, library and bookselling associations and institutions. Its place of business then was designated at the National Library, and was born with official government blessing and given government support through ad hoc grants for specific projects.
Today, the Book Council continues to grow and cultivate Singapore's books and local literary arts scene by organising a variety of festivals, programmes and projects, and managing its own training arm. As a long-time advocate of Asian children’s literature and storytelling, it has also helmed the premier regional Asian Festival of Children’s Content since 2010.
OUR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
- 1968–1992: During this initial period, the Book Council set its sights on promoting reading and improving literacy skills by way of initiatives such as the Festival of Books and Book Fair, and the National Reading Month. It was also concerned with the progress and development of good library services in Singapore in its early years.
- 1992–2000: To nurture local literary talent, the Book Council launched Singapore’s top literary award, the Singapore Literature Prize in 1992. The award was initially aimed to promote Singapore literary works in English, but its scope has since expanded to include works in Malay, Chinese and Tamil as well as non-fiction works.
- 2000–today: The Book Council has now expanded its portfolio to be the organiser of 6 literary awards and 3 festivals including the premier Asian Festival of Children’s Content. It continues to cultivate and nurture budding writers, illustrators, publishers and educators by offering them training via their Academy. The Book Council also provides advice and consultation services via the Singapore Writers Centre, and promotes Singapore literary talents and their works by sending them to international events such as the London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, and the New Delhi World Book Fair.
The Book Council is a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Major Grant for the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2019.