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What Is World Book Day?

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Gia R.

Staff Writer

Gia R. is from Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated with two business degrees. While studying, her short nonfiction story was published in 2018 in Write On, Downtown, an ASU journal. Since then, she taught preschool students abroad. Now back in AZ, you’ll find her writing, reading, and adoring digital art.

When it comes to bookish holidays, there are just too many to count! Some holidays honor a certain author or focus on a particular genre or character from a famous book. We’ve got a list of 10 of the Best Literary Holidays, but I’d like to draw some attention to an upcoming celebration called World Book Day.  

What is World Book Day?

World Book Day is a day to inspire and encourage people, especially children, to read. In the UK, where the holiday started, students from all over receive a voucher to get a book just for them from registered schools. Not only is it a day for kids to embrace a new book, it is also a day to show some love to illustrators and authors. Many schools have activities to commemorate the day like dressing up as a beloved book character or having designated reading time. Additionally, many people donate to charities to promote reading and accessibility to books.

When is World Book Day?

This year, it is celebrated on March 3 in the UK and Ireland (it’s usually the first Thursday of March). In over 100 other countries, it is on April 23.

How did World Book Day get started?

Established by UNESCO back in 1995, World Book Day was created to promote a love for reading and books. In 1997, it was first celebrated in the UK and Ireland to inspire a curiosity for reading.

Although it is celebrated in March in the UK, the United Nations selected April 23rd for the holiday because of the many culturally significant authors whose birth or death occurred on this day. For example, Shakespeare, Haldor K Laxness, and Manuel Mejia Vallejo were born on April 23, while Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes passed away that day. In fact, the original idea for this holiday started with Vicente Clavel Andres, a writer from Valencia, who wanted to honor the author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. World Book Day has other names, including International Day of the Book and the World Book and Copyright Day.

While this day does serve to remember and honor past authors, it is also a reminder that reading has many educational and social benefits. Reading is important for a child’s development and well being, but it’s also just fun! As avid readers and educators, we often have a list of reasons why a child should read regularly. This is true and important, but reading also can provide so much joy and delight. As far as enriching one’s education, mind, and well being, reading time is essential. This day is a great chance to remember to dedicate at least ten minutes a day to reading.

How do they celebrate World Book Day in the UK?

The World Book Day organization works with schools to offer vouchers for each student to receive a free book. Then, a network of bookstores and publishers that have partnered with the World Book Day organization accept these vouchers or tokens. Their website provides a list of resources on how to get started and enjoy the day. They even have list of book recommendations according to topic and age.

How is World Book Day celebrated elsewhere?

As part of World Book Day, UNESCO selects a World Book Capital for the year. The selected city promotes a love for reading for 12 months (from last World Book Day to the following one) through cultural activities for all ages. Last year, UNESCO picked Tbilisi, Georgia. 2022’s World Book Capital is Guadalajara, Mexico, because of “its comprehensive plan for policies around the book to trigger social change, combat violence and build a culture of peace.” Guadalajara is already known for its International Book Fair, but its program as the 2022 World Book Capital will include events and workshops that create more shared reading spaces and community bonding. The World Book Day organization does similar activities that relate to vouchers and donations in Wales and Ireland. 

In other countries, many schools and libraries have events and activities to celebrate the day. Many people donate to charities that make books more accessible in their communities.

What is this year’s World Book Day theme?

This year’s theme is “you are a reader” which encourages each child to embrace what it means to be a reader, no matter their financial background.

How can I celebrate World Book Day this year?

A great way to spend the day is doing a variety of bookish things. That might include visiting bookshops, going to the library, attending book readings, or just taking out a new book and reading for a bit. It can be as simple as reading with a friend or having a chat about a new book over coffee. With children, you can encourage them to dress up or act out a book. Some educators may consider using puppets to show scenes from books. The World Book Day website has some ideas for encouraging students to read ideas with costumes and without costumes. You may also want to think about starting a book club or arrange a book meeting to discuss your latest read. 

Additionally, consider helping out your local library or nearby school. Do you have books to donate? Call to see if donations are accepted. Thinking about volunteering? This is a great time to offer some help.

Either way, you’ll want a book to enjoy that day.