Today is the World Book and Copyright Day also known as World Book Day. I have written previously about this day, so hop there to know more about the history of why this day has been celebrated.
The 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 recognise 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.
The original idea of this day was from the Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, first on 7 October, his birth anniversary, then on 23 April, his death anniversary. In 1995 at UNESCO’s General Conference held in Paris, it was decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is symbolic in world literature as it is also the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors.
This year, when many schools and institutes of learning have been shut because of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, reading has become an essential habit, more than ever. As more people spend time at home and limit social gatherings, the power of books should and can be leveraged to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity. Books have the unique ability both to entertain and to teach. They are at once a means of exploring realms beyond our personal experience through exposure to different authors, universes and cultures, and a means of accessing the deepest recesses of our inner selves.
Not just during the month of April, but all year round, it is critical to take the time to read on your own or with your children, if they are too young to read on their own. It is a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers and promote a lifelong love of literature and integration into the world of work. Through reading and the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, we can open ourselves to others despite distances, and we can travel thanks to our imagination, even though leisure travel has stopped more or less across the world.
The 2021 World Book Capital is Tbilisi, Georgia. Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to carry out activities with the aim of encouraging a culture of reading and diffusing its values in all ages and population groups in and out of the national borders. The cities commit to promoting books and fostering reading during a 12 months period between one World Book and Copyright Day and the next.
So please read today if you don’t otherwise read often. If you are a parent with a child too young to read, sit down with them with a favourite book and spend time reading and inculcating the love and joy that comes when you read a good book. For parents with older children, be a good role model and lead by example and show to your children how important reading is. I am going to spend most of today and the weekend with a good book, some nice hot tea or coffee and just read. What about you?