World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, is a United Nations holiday sponsored by UNESCO, celebrated every year on April 23. This day aims to promote reading across all communities, encourage people to engage with different types of literature, and discover the benefits of reading.
The day mainly focuses on children and young people, hoping to instill in them a love of books and promote reading for pleasure to contribute to their future and development.
World Book Day also pays tribute to all of those who work behind the scenes to create books for us - writers, publishers, and copywriters.
This day is not to be confused with World Book Day which is celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland on the first Thursday of March.
History of World Book Day
During the UNESCO General Conference held in Paris in 1995, delegates discussed the idea of having an annual celebration of books and authors. They wished to promote reading across the world and teach children about the wonders of reading for pleasure. The day chosen for this was April 23, in tribute to several famous authors who had their birth or death on this date, such as Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and Vladimir Nabokov, among others.
World Book Day has been celebrated every year since April 23, 1995, although some countries choose to celebrate it on a different day.
Unlike many other UN holidays, World Book Day does not observe a different theme each year.
Why do we Celebrate World Book Day?
Reading books is crucial for children's development, but it is also a habit that can have a huge impact on anyone, regardless of their age. Reading regularly for pleasure has many benefits:
- it stimulates our minds and increases our vocabulary
- it teaches us new things and improves our focus
- it can help us relax and reduce stress
- it also develops our thinking skills and opens up our eyes to different perspectives.
For children, it stimulates their imagination, teaches them empathy, and encourages them to interact with and discover the outside world. According to the World Book Day website, reading for pleasure has a bigger positive impact on a child's future than any other factors of their upbringing, such as income or parents' educational background.
World Book Day encourages this love for reading and makes books more accessible to children, especially those of disadvantaged circumstances, to instill in them the habit of reading and improving their lives. Even 10 minutes a day spent reading, or being read to, can have a big impact on a child's life and future.
This day is celebrated in over 100 countries, with hundreds of sponsoring organizations, schools, and public groups bringing World Book Day to millions of people. It also gives people a great opportunity to learn about what goes into making a book, and to discover new authors and genres of literature.
The following books are considered from many sources to be the best-selling books around the world of all time:
The Bible - This book is considered the best-selling book of all time, partly due to the fact that it is also the oldest book on this list by a large margin. Billions of copies of it have been sold and distributed in various languages and editions worldwide.
"Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung" (Mao Zedong) - Another incredibly popular book, with an estimated 800 million copies sold.
"Don Quixote" (Miguel de Cervantes) - A classic novel and one of the most important works of Western literature. Some sources estimate over 500 million copies of this story have been sold worldwide.
"The Lord of the Rings" (J.R.R. Tolkien) - This epic fantasy series, also a successful movie and video game franchise, has sold over 150 million copies and has been translated into numerous languages.
"The Little Prince" (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) - This classic children's book has been translated into many languages and has sold over 140 million copies worldwide.
How to Celebrate World Book Day
Events for this day are mainly organized by libraries and schools and include public readings, Q&A's with authors, writing competitions, and distribution of free books and bookmarks.
In the United States, there is an annual street festival held for World Book Day in Kensington, Maryland, on the Sunday closest to April 23.
Celebrate this day by taking a trip to the library or the bookshop, picking up new books from authors you've never read, or re-reading an old favorite book. If you have children take them with you and let them pick their own books to read, or that you can read to them. You can also donate to your local library to help make books accessible for everyone in your community.