I’ve always thought that World Book Day fell on 3 March, but I’ve only recently discovered that the UNESCO World Book and Copywrite Day falls on April 23. Upon discovering this it only made sense to launch a book blog on this day! o
So, what is World Book and Copywrite Day? Launched in 1995, World Book and Copywrite Day aims to be a day of celebration for literature and authors across the globe, with the hope of encouraging people, especially young people, to engage with books and get in to reading. Each year a city is chosen to be the World Book Capital, in 2021 this is Tbilisi in Georgia. The Capital hosts a series of activities to promote books and reading throughout the year.
When a date or dates are chosen as a celebration marker I always wonder if there’s some significance to that date and it turns out that in this instance there is!
UNESCO selected April 23 because of the deaths and births of many a famous author on this day.
‘It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.’ - UNESCO
It is interesting that three literary giants all died on the same day, in the same year back in 1616.
All of this talk of celebrating books, encouraging young readers and promoting literature and authors got me thinking about my childhood and reading. My parents always read to us as kids and they still have so many of those books, which have already now made it to my nephew for his reading time. My mum loves to talk about her ‘fear’ that we weren’t children that read but I don’t really remember a time when I avoided reading or books. I remember reading Jaqueline Wilson and Mallory Blackman, Enid Blyth and Roald Dahl, so I’m not really sure what she was worried about!
It also got me thinking about the first book I ever bought (or remember buying). I don’t think I could tell you what my first CD was but my first book…Harry Potter and the Prisoner and Azkaban, which was bought at a school bookfair. Did I even know what Harry Potter was? Nope. Which also means I hadn’t read the Philosopher’s Stone or A Chamber of Secrets! 9-year-old me (I’m guessing I was 9, I could be wrong) was just going to jump into book three in the series, utterly clueless! I think a friend in my class told me that I couldn’t read that one first and that I had to start with the first book and so became my foray into the world of Harry Potter. I devoured those books (I didn’t stand outside waiting for them to be released at midnight) and I remember being out of school for the summer holidays and having one of my grandparents looking after myself, my brother and my two cousins. We went to the beach and all three boys took off to go play football and be general wee hooligans having fun in the sun, but I refused to leave the car because I just had to keep reading! By this point I was on to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I left the back passenger door open, spread myself out and just kept devouring those pages. My reading journey clearly took a turn after that, I never read another HP book and I didn’t finish the series (although I do think I’ve seen all the movies, but I could be wrong…).
I know that there can be a lot of mixed feelings when discussing Harry Potter, not because of the content of the books but due to the comments and positions that the author has taken in recent years, especially with regards to transgender rights, in particular trans women. I have many a thought and feeling on this and on the debate around separating the artist from the art, and whilst this post isn’t intended to focus on that, let me state clearly that trans women are women and trans men are men and if you’re feminism isn’t intersectional then I do not want to be a part of it.
What I did want to do today is celebrate the joy that comes with books, the fun we can have escaping to other worlds, taking on characters, living vicariously through them, whether they are living in fictional worlds of make believe or if the story is something that is more grounded in the every day. I think it’s fun to look back on your reading journey, which book turned you in to a bookworm, who influenced you as a child to read or as an adult to make reading a part of your life again? Why not think back on that today, pick up a book for the first time in a while, read to your kids, recommend your favourite book to a friend. Basically, wave that bookworm flag high and celebrate all things literature and writing…HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY BOOKWORMS!