SINCE 1967, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated every April 2 in time for the birthday of the world-famous Danish author of well-loved fairy tales and poems, Hans Christian Andersen.

The said festivity is held yearly to inspire love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

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In the Philippines, the National Children's Book Day (NCBD) is celebrated on the third Tuesday of July in commemoration of the publication of Dr. Jose Rizal's

"Ang Pagong at ang Matsing" (The Turtle and the Monkey) at the Trubner's Oriental Record in London.

In line with this, the SM Supermalls' Corporate Social Responsibility program,

SM Cares, through the SM Committee on Youth and Children's Welfare, will be celebrating Children's Book Day today, July 20, with a number of "activity-campaigns" simultaneously across the 36 SM malls nationwide.

"With more than 2.8 million customers going to our malls daily, and approximately 1.2 million being children, we have put it upon ourselves to make our malls not just child-friendly but more importantly, an avenue for a kid's growth and learning," said Royce Cabunag, project director.

He added SM is now beyond shopping, entertainment and leisure.

"It is now about taking affirmative action in our social responsibilities. It is about taking initiatives, to be instrumental in caring for children, the best way we can." he said.

Together with partners from the Department of Education (DepEd), National Book

Development Board (NBDB), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Vibal Publishing and SM Foundation, the NCBD hopes to cultivate a love for reading and inspire kids into reading early to further boost a child's development.

This shall be highlighted by a turnover of more than 35,000 brand new books to different public schools nationwide.

The primary objective of this SM Cares campaign is for kids to have fun in learning by experiencing the wonderful world of books through digital storytelling with celebrities, book mascot parade, literary exhibits, book donation drive, "writeshops" for children's literature and many more activities that would reinforce a child's rich and colorful imagination, instill proper values and encourage children to explore and learn about other cultures.

In Cagayan de Oro, the National Children's Book Day will be held at the Atrium of SM City at 2:00 p.m. today, July 20. (PR)