World Reading Day: History, Theme, Significance

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 7, 2023, 13:10

World Reading Day, popularly known as World Book and Copyright Day, is celebrated on April 23. UNESCO organizes the annual event to promote the enjoyment of reading books. The book industry consists of three major sectors-publishers, booksellers, and libraries. World Reading Day recognizes and celebrates all these three aspects.

Books contribute immensely to our lives. By observing International Reading Day, UNESCO champions creativity, diversity, and equal access to knowledge. It also aims to acknowledge the contributions of significant writers and publishers who have bridged the gap across cultures through their work.

World Reading Day - History

  • World Reading Day was first celebrated in 1995.
  • The original idea to celebrate World Book Day was conceived by Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andres to pay homage to author Miguel de Cervantes.
  • UNESCO's General Conference, held in 1995 in Paris, chose April 23 to pay tribute to books and authors across the globe.
  • The date April 23 holds a lot of significance since it marks the birth or death of many prominent authors.
  • For instance, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Josep Pla died on April 23. Other distinguished writers such as Manuel Mejia Vallejo and Maurice Druon were born on the same date.

World Reading Day Theme 2021

  • Events and activities are held worldwide to make reading more fun and interactive every year.
  • The theme for World Reading Day 2021 is "To Share a Story."
  • As part of the 2021 celebration, UNESCO came up with a book face challenge. As per the organization, book covers are incredibly important and can make or break a title. Students, teachers, readers, the book industry, and library services worldwide were invited to participate in the challenge.
  • UNESCO also selects a book capital every year to maintain the impetus of the reading day celebration. The Director-General of UNESCO selected Tbilisi (Georgia) as the book capital for 2021.

World Reading Day across the Globe

  • Spain

In Spain, World Book Day celebrations began in 1926. October 7 marks the birth anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, one of the greatest Spanish writers. However, it was considered that the day could be celebrated better in a more pleasant season such as spring, where books could be browsed in the open air. Accordingly, in 1930 King Alfonso XIII changed the celebration date to April 23.

  • Sweden

World Book Day is popularly known as Vrldsbokdagen in Sweden. Though typically celebrated on April 23, that date was moved to April 13 in 2000 and 2011 to avoid a clash with Easter.

  • The United Kingdom and Ireland

World Reading Day in UK and Ireland is celebrated on the first Tuesday of March, the same day as special editions' release. The day is marked by holding a charity event. On April 23, The Reading Charity organizes an independent charity and celebrates it as World Book Night.

  • United States

The United States celebrates World Book Day with a street festival in Kensington, Maryland. The event is held on a Sunday closest to April 26. Unfortunately, the festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

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FAQs on World Reading Day

Q.1) What is the World Reading Day date?

Ans: World Reading Day date is April 23.

Q.2) When was the first World Reading Day celebrated?

Ans: The first World Reading Day was celebrated on April 23, 1995.

Q.3) What was the theme of World Reading Day 2021?

Ans: The theme for World Reading Day 2021 was "To share a story."