very April 23 since 1995, people all over the world gather to promote and celebrate the joys of reading and writing literature. This is World Book Day, a yearly event organized and promoted by UNESCO to encourage reading for pleasure around the world. Though people of all ages are encouraged to participate, World Book Day is geared especially towards children and young people, encouraging them to develop a good relationship with books and good reading habits that they will then carry into adulthood.
Significance of the Date
The date of April 23 was chosen because it coincides with several important dates in literary history. William Shakespeare was born on April 23 in 1564, and he died on the same date half a century later in 1616. April 23 is also the anniversary of the Miguel de Cervantes and Garcilaso de la Vega, a 17th century Spanish writer who also served as a chronicler of Spanish presence in Peru. The French novelist Maurice Duron, Colombian short story author Manuel Mejía Vallejo, and the Icelandic poet and novelist Halldór Laxness were also all born on April 23. This makes the day uniquely suited to represent writers from all over the world.
History of World Book Day
World Book Day was established in 1995. It is not an official holiday in any of the many countries in which it is celebrated, but it was conceived as a global initiative to be celebrated all around the world at the same time. UNESCO, the education and cultural outreach branch of the United Nations organized World Book Day. Each year, UNESCO chooses a city around the globe to serve as the World Book Capital City for that year. Madrid, Alexandria, New Deli, Montreal, Bagota, and Amsterdam are some of the cities chosen as past capitals. Capital Cities receive backing from UNESCO so they can put on more ambitious events.
Events Around the World
World Book Day events are generally left open for libraries, schools, and community organizations to put together themselves. Book fairs are common, as are costume contests where children dress as their favorite literary characters. A few cities host more ambitious annual events to celebrate their own literary traditions. In Spain, many cities organize public “readathons” of the full text of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. This is an ambitious undertaking, as the full text of the novel takes around two days of continual reading to complete. The Don Quixote Prize for Spanish literature is also awarded on this day. Similarly, pubs and other public spots in Ireland hold readings of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and people organize Ulysses tours, where participants visit all the locations around Dublin that are mentioned in the novel. In the United Kingdom, World Book Day is celebrated with the publication of a series of £1 books for children. These inexpensive books include many of the most popular titles for kids and make booksets for classrooms more easily accessible for schoolchildren in the country.
With so many distractions in modern life, it is easy to forget the pleasure of immersing yourself in a good book. World Book Day serves as an important reminder of the joy of reading.
Presented By Book Pal