World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. On this occasion, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a year to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations.
23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books.
The 24th edition of World Book and Copyright Day will celebrate literature and reading while focusing particularly on the importance of enhancing and protecting Indigenous languages. UNESCO has been effectively committed towards indigenous people since the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (link is external) in September 2007 and continues to work towards a better recognition of their rights. More than ever, UNESCO reaffirms its willingness to assist and support local communities in their efforts to promote and preserve their knowledge and language. As a vector of knowledge, books bring people together around a story and a common heritage while revealing their specificities through different cultures, identities and languages. The focus on this topic is fully in line with the celebration of the International Year of the Indigenous Languages (link is external)
We love books, and our friends at UNESCO agree. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization proposed World Book Day as a day of celebrating the joy of reading for enjoyment.
One hundred countries observe World Book Day, and why not?
Children who regularly read for enjoyment have higher test scores, develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures than their non-reading counterparts. Whether you read traditional paperbound books or turn to your Kindle/iPad/whatever, reading’s a passport to this and many other worlds.
So celebrate with us on April 23! Here’s how to harness your inner bookworm — and maybe get a free book.
The first ever World Book Day was celebrated on April 23, 1995. The date as decided by UNESCO as it was also the death and birth anniversary of William Shakespeare, a world famous author. The date also coincided with the death anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, who was a noted Spanish author. Some other well known authors whose birth or death anniversary falls on this day are Maurice Druon, Josep Pla and Halldor Laxness.
The idea of the day was taken from a Spanish tradition. April 23rd has always been celebrated as “The Rose Day” in Spain. On this day, people exchanged roses for showing their love and support, much like the Valentine’s Day. However, in 1926, when Miguel de Cervantes dies on the day, people exchanged books instead of roses in order to commemorate the death of the great author. The tradition continues to this day in Spain and that’s from where the idea of the World Book Day came about.
As the name suggests, the focus of the day is on books and writing. Thus, various programs are held by UNESCO to promote reading habits among people. Focus is also on discussing various issues pertaining to the world of authors, publishers, distributors etc. as well as promoting their works and causes.
However, unlike other such days, there are no themes decided as such by UNESCO each year, although there is a specific topic around which programs are organized every year. Apart from that, there are traditions on the day which are specific to some countries. The tradition of exchanging books in Spain has already been talked about. There is also the tradition of organizing a reading marathon spanning two days in Spain, at the end of which an author is given the coveted Miguel de Cervantes prize by the King of Spain. In Sweden, writing competitions are organized across schools and colleges.