©iStockphoto.com/ Ekaterina Monakhova
April 23 marks the anniversary of the birth or death of a range of well-known writers, including Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Maurice Druon, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Haldor Kiljan Laxness, Manuel Mejía Vallejo, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and William Shakespeare. For this reason, UNESCO’s General Conference chose this date to pay tribute to books, the authors who wrote them, and the copyright laws that protect them.
What Do People Do?
A range of activities to promote reading and the cultural aspects of books are held all over the world. Many of these emphasize international cooperation or friendships between countries. Events include: relay readings of books and plays; the distribution of bookmarks; the announcement of the winners of literary competitions; and actions to promote the understanding of laws on copyright and the protection of authors’ intellectual property.
In some years, the Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded. This is a prize for novels, collections of short stories or picture books that promote tolerance, peace, mutual understanding and respect for other peoples and cultures. There are two categories: one for books aimed at children aged up to 12 years; and one for those aimed at young people aged 13 to 18 years.
Purpose of the day
World Book and Copyright Day is an occasion to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors and to encourage people to discover the pleasure of reading. It is hoped that this will lead to the renewed respect for those who have made irreplaceable contributions to social and cultural progress. In some years, the UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded. It is also hoped that World Book and Copyright Day will increase people’s understanding of and adherence to copyright laws and other measures to protect intellectual copyright.
The year 1995 was named the United Nations Year for Tolerance and UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris, concentrated on this theme. The delegates voted to establish an annual occasion to carry the message of tolerance into the future, in the form of a day to celebrate books, authors and the laws that protect them. The date was chosen because April 23 marks the anniversary of the birth or death of a range of internationally renowned writers and because of the Catalan traditions surrounding this day. In Catalonia, a region of Spain, April 23 is known as La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day) and it is traditional for sweethearts to exchange books and roses. World Book and Copyright Day has been held annually since 1995.
Each year a poster is designed and distributed around the world. It features images designed to encourage people, particularly children, to read books and appreciate literature. There is also a logo for World Book and Copyright Day. It features a circle, representing the world, and two books, one of which is open.