World Book Day 2019: Theme, history and significance of the Day

World Book Day 2019: Theme, history and significance of the Day

World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, is an annual event the organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. World Book Day is celebrated every year on the 23rd of April.

The World Book Capital for 2019 is the city of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Sharjah was selected because of the very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature of the application, with a community-focused activity programme containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population.

History & Significance:

The original idea to observe World Book Day was of the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andres as a way to honour the renowned author, Miguel de Cervantes, first on his birth date, October 7 and then on April 23, his death date.

UNESCO selected April 23, to pay tribute to great literary figures including William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who died on this day. Proclaimed in 1995 in the UNESCO General Conference, held in Paris, it has annually promoted the joy of reading and paid tribute to writers and authors and their texts and books because of their importance to “social and cultural progress of humanity.”

The Day is observed by millions of people in over 100 countries, in hundreds of voluntary organisations, schools, public bodies, professional groups and private businesses. In this lengthy period, World Book and Copyright Day has won over a considerable number of people from every continent and all cultural backgrounds to the cause of books and copyright.


This year, World Book and Copyright Day will celebrate literature and reading while focusing particularly on the importance of enhancing and protecting Indigenous languages.

The Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay said, “Books are a form of cultural expression that lives through and as part of a chosen language. Each publication is created in a distinct language and is intended for a language-specific reading audience. A book is thus written, produced, exchanged, used and appreciated in a given linguistic and cultural setting.”

He added, “This year we highlight this important dimension because 2019 marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages, led by UNESCO, to reaffirm the commitment of the international community in supporting indigenous peoples to preserve their cultures, knowledge and rights.”

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