Also known as World Book Day and or International Day of the Book, the World Book and Copyright Day is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. World Book Day was first celebrated on 23 April 1995, and continues to be recognized on that day. A related event in the United Kingdom and Ireland is observed in March.
I have written in detail about the event previously here, here and here, so just pop by there for more information on the history of this day.
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.
The 2020 World Book Capital or WBC is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur or KL as it is known in the region, was selected on the recommendation by the World Book capital Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and UNESCO based on applications received from cities all over the world. To know more, here’s the link to the website of the Kuala Lumpur World Book Capital. Previous World Book Capitals have been Sharjah in 2019, Athens in 2018, Conakry in 2017 and Wroclaw in 2016. UNESCO is also accepting applications for the World Book Capital for 2022 and the deadline for the same is Thursday 25 June 2020 in case anyone is interested for their city to become the WBC. The application form and more information is available on the UNESCO website.
Why April 23? It is because 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. Therefore this date was a natural choice for UNESCO at its 1995 General Conference, held in Paris, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books.
Today with schools and other institues of learning closed because of the panademic caused by Covid-19, and people having to limit their time spent outside their homes, it is all the more important that all of us continue to read, to leverage the immense power that books wield and expand their horizons. Books are the best medium to stimulate our minds and creativity, while ensuring we stay inside.
For parents, please take time to read on your own or with your children not just in April, but throughout the year. With your children, celebrate the importance of reading, foster your children’s growth as readers and promote a lifelong love of literature.
Books allow you to travel distances, go to worlds not available on this earth and have zany adventures, all from the comfort of your chair, sofa or bed. Books are the best ways to allow your imagination to soar and combat the lonliness that most of us are feeling right now.
As someone who loves reading, I can’t emphasise books enough. Today when electronic gadgets affect our minds to the extent that we get bored in a matter of minutes, a good book, which can capture and sustain our interest for a few hours is invaluable. We read and then we grow our minds, our thinking not only becomes critical, we also become open to other view points.
From a parents perspective, reading is essential for a child’s mental well-being. I remember dragging myself down to our community library about 15 days post partum, armed with BB & GG’s birth certificates to get them their own library cards. I also used to borrow books for them on a weekly basis until they were old enough to borrow their own books.
A 2019 study published in the US found that parents who regularly read with their toddlers were less likely to be overly harsh with them and the children more likely to be better behaved. Of course, we all know that a child who reads performs better academically. A European study published earlier this year in February suggested that children and teens who read a good quality book daily may benefit from improved academic performance at school. Reading naturally improves your language and it doesn’t just have to be English, but yes, that’s the language that has the biggest benefit because we generally tend to read more in this language. But if you want to improve any langague, read more in that language and see how your spoken and written skills bloom. Reading can also improve children’s receptive language skills. A British study which reviewed 40 years of reading intervention studies from the US, South Africa, Canada, Israel and China, found that children who were read to at a young age showed improved receptive language skills, which is the ability to understand information. The children who were read to also showed smaller but still positive improvements in their expressive language, which is how a child puts their thoughts into words such as vocabulary and grammar, and pre-reading skills, such as how words are structured.
So there you have it, the benefits of reading and what a good book does to you. So spend this time where we are quarantined, locked down or just advised not to venture out with a good book and read together as a family! Sit in a comfortable position, grab a good book, have some hot coffee or tea next to you with some snacks and read away! Aah, bliss!!!