World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. On this occasion, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a year to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations.
23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books.
By championing books and copyright, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge, with the work across the board – from the Creative Cities of Literature network to promoting literacy and mobile learning and advancing Open Access to scientific knowledge and educational resources. With the active involvement of all stakeholders: authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media, and all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors, World Book and Copyright Day has become a platform to rally together millions of people all around the world.
“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. 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.”
— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day
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The 24th edition of World Book and Copyright Day will celebrate literature and reading while focusing particularly on the importance of enhancing and protecting Indigenous languages. UNESCO has been effectively committed towards indigenous people since the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples(link is external) in September 2007 and continues to work towards a better recognition of their rights. More than ever, UNESCO reaffirms its willingness to assist and support local communities in their efforts to promote and preserve their knowledge and language. As a vector of knowledge, books bring people together around a story and a common heritage while revealing their specificities through different cultures, identities and languages. The focus on this topic is fully in line with the celebration of the International Year of the Indigenous Languages(link is external).
UNESCO Headquarters will host the exhibition “Les Livres à deux places”(link is external) from April 23 to May 14, 2019. Sixteen sculptures of book-benches will be scattered throughout UNESCO, offering a unique reading experience, combining literature, plastic arts, and street art. read more
The collaboration between the association Lire et Faire Lire(link is external) and Les Livres à deux places(link is external), aims at promoting reading and fighting against illiteracy in a creative and innovative way. It is also the occasion to highlight the central place of the book in everyone’s intellectual and socio-cultural development.
23 April 2019 also marks the beginning of Sharjah’s mandate as UNESCO’s World Book Capital, chosen because of the highly innovative and inclusive nature of its candidacy. With a programme of activities focusing on involving a large population of migrants, the city of the United Arab Emirates is committed to promoting books and reading and to implement a range of activities for a period of one year.
UNESCO sincerely invites you to celebrate this Day with us and cherish books as the valuable tool for knowledge-sharing, mutual understanding and openness to a diversified world.