What is World Book Day?
World Book Day is an annual worldwide movement celebrating the world of books and reading. It is celebrated in more than 100 countries, and is marked on April 23rd every year globally and March in the UK (2nd March in 2023). Typical World Book Day traditions involve school children going to school dressed as their favourite character while bringing along the accompanying book. Every child also receives a book token from sponsors, National Book Tokens.
What is the history behind World Book Day?
World Book Day was founded by UNESCO in 1995 as 'World Book and Copyright Day' and is celebrated internationally every year. This annual date was chosen because of its historical literary significance as several well-known authors died, including William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.
World book capital city
UNESCO, along with the advisory committee from the major sectors of the book industry, selects the World Book Capital for one year. Each designated World Book Capital City carries out a program of activities to celebrate and promote books and reading. This year Accra in Ghana is hosting with the opening ceremony happening on the 23rd of April. The theme for the campaign is “Reading to Connect Minds for Social Transformation”. This is planned to be achieved over the next year through a variety of projects, such as provision of school and community reading infrastructure, and book industry development by promoting the Florence Agreement, and the publication and use of books in Ghanaian languages (The Florence Agreement being a UNESCO treaty whereby states agree to not impose customs duties on certain educational, scientific, and cultural materials that are imported).
World Digital Library
The World Digital Library is an international digital library operated by UNESCO, the library intends to make available on the internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. Initially opening with 1,236 items, as of late 2015, it lists more than 12,000 items from nearly 200 countries, dating back to 8,000 BCE.
Notable World Book Day celebrations over the years
The World Book Capital programme during the year 2011 was held in Buenos Aires in Argentina. The three aims of the Buenos Aires 2011 World book Capital were:
Traditional yearly events such as the Night of the Bookstores, International Poetry Festival and Night of the Museums were enhanced for the occasion of World Book Capital. During that period 85 events were organised, 80% of which were free of charge. In addition, the suburbs of Buenos Aires organised community libraries and book events for local people.
Historical authors, like Borges, Lorca, Sabato, were celebrated. New event entries were added to the International Book Fair and Filba (a Buenos Aires literature festival).
Unconventional spaces were used to attract new audiences. The Tower of Babel, designed by artist Marta Minujin, was a 25-metre tower made of 30,000 books in languages from all over the world. Approximately 115,000 books were distributed by buses as well as in subways, trams, and theatres. In addition, the tour of the city by bike included themes around poetry and reading Shakespeare. A website was also developed and served as a literary events diary for the year. The electronic newsletter managed to attract 20,000 subscribers.
What to look out for this year
World Book Day has unveiled an extensive collection of events, activities and partnerships as part of its annual celebration. The #PassThePen campaign will see World Book Day 2023 authors paired with up-and-coming writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds. We will see the likes of Michael Morpurgo, Nadia Shireen and more hand over the reins of their social media accounts to some rising stars in children’s literature.