National Reading Day: The Life of Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker, Father of India's Library Movement

National Reading Day is observed in India on June 19 to honour the life and work of Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker, who is widely regarded as the Father of India's Library Movement. Read on to know more about his work.

Srushti Pathak
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Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker

A teacher and educationist in India unconditionally strived for the cause of educating and writing for India till his last days. Who was this person? It was none other than Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker who is often referred to as the ‘Father of India’s Library Movement’. He firmly believed that reading and becoming enlightened through books forms the bedrock of individual and social transformation. He was involved in the provision of the first public library in the region of Kerala in 1945 and later became the leader of the library movement in the region. So to honour his work, India celebrates National Reading Day every year on June 19.

Why Panicker is known as the Father of Library Movement

Indian Students

PN Panicker was born in Jamjamjun in 1901 and he grew up to become a teacher. A lot of people believe that his influence on society as a teacher was much greater than many in his time. It is believed that his profession inspired him to push the importance of literacy among the population of Kerala.

Kerala literature was propagated and the prestigious Travancore Palace Library was developed through the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham (KGS). It was originally known as the Travancore Literary Association and was under the leadership of PN Panicker. This association comprised a total of 47 local libraries and this association worked at the grassroots level with the main aim of providing education. The main aim of setting up these libraries was to highlight the importance of education and reading in rural areas. The intricate library network eventually grew and had over 6,000 libraries under the organisation. Eventually, it was taken over by the state government and is now known as the Kerala State Library Council. This is the reason why P N Panicker is known as the ‘Father of Library Movement’ in Kerala.

Five years after the formation of Kerala in 1956, KGS extended to a thousand six hundred more libraries in the state. Under the leadership of PN Panicker, the KGS network also got a lot of name and fame, it even received the UNESCO Krupskaya Award in 1975.

Kerala Literacy

Kerala Literacy Mission

After the formation of Kerala state in 1956, Panicker’s Library Association was taken over by the state government. He held the position of General Secretary of Sangham for 32 years, till 1977. During this time, he travelled to different villages and underdeveloped areas of Kerala and promoted the importance of reading and education.

In 1977, Panicker decided to form the Kerala Association for Non-Formal Education and Development (KANFED). KANFED led to the beginning of the Kerala Literacy Mission, which promoted the importance of education in rural areas. This mission was the reason Kerala was able to become the first state in the country that achieved universal literacy.

National Reading Day

PN Panicker passed away on June 19, 1995, and to honour his legacy, the State government of Kerala announced the day as Vaayanadinam, which translates to Reading Day. Reading Day is now celebrated not just in Kerala, but across the nation in schools and educational institutes.

Reading Day is celebrated to honour PN Panicker’s contributions towards the cause of literacy, education and the library movement. The week starting from June 19 till June 23 will be celebrated as Reading Week in schools with a series of educational activities and reading exercises.

Kerala Literacy Travancore Palace Library Father of India's Library Movement Puthuvayil Narayana Panicker National Reading Day