Fatoumatta: Mark Twain once said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” For many years, the illiteracy of the general public has caused concern because of the criminal negligence of the private, public libraries across the country.It is still not relevant to the lack of libraries across an educationally challenged country with the distinction of having the highest number of out-of-school children in the sub-region. Every good book you place in the excited hands of young people is a gun you take away from the hands of a thirty-year-old career armed robber. We cannot all live in walled estates forever. One day, our SUVs will go out to play. On that day, when we come face-to-face with the childhoods that we have made or marred, the lives we save will be our own.
Fatoumatta: World Book Day is a celebration! It is a celebration of Authors, Illustrators, and good books, and most importantly, it is a celebration of reading… It is the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries worldwide. Books save knowledge, preserve experiences and conserve imagination. Therefore, cultivate the habit of reading. World Book Day is celebrated by UNESCO every year on April 23rd.
UNESCO selected the date to pay tribute to significant literary figures like William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes, Vladimir Nabokov, etc. Those born in the 1960s did not wake up to the very rich intrusion of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There was no YouTube, and there was no WhatsApp. There was no mobile phone. What was called a telephone was some wired device declared out of bounds to the poor. There was something called Telegram then but not today’s encrypted platform for personal data and voice calls. We got in books that we lacked in these virtual things – great books written by great authors filled our supple hearts with soundness and nuanced our impressionable minds with thoughts of justice and peace. We did not climb the palm tree from the fronds. We were not started as force-fed toddlers made.
Fatoumatta: After that, the system quietly unlocked its library of full-story books for us. Moreover, this is not just about Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, and George Orwell. We filled our social and knowledge world with local and foreign plays and novels – detective, romance, fantasy, science, and mystery. Many bought and read almost 100 of James Hadley Chase’s enthralling thrillers. The very romantic would clutch on to their Barbara Cartland and her Lessons in Love and her other stories of dreams at night; they would add Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Of course, there were Mills and Boons books too. The bookish got hooked on Heinemann’s African Writers series. Also, we had The Pacesetters series with their varied themes and beauty, cover to cover.
Fatoumatta: The date, April 23rd, was finalized in 1995 at the UNESCO General Conference, held in Paris, to honor authors and books worldwide. This year marks the 24th edition of World Book Day,’ and this year, it will celebrate literature and reading while focusing mainly on the importance of enhancing and protecting indigenous languages. Several events are held worldwide to celebrate the power of books to bring people together and transmit wisdom among people of diverse cultures.
World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of good books and reading. On April 23rd, World Book Day, people celebrate worldwide recognizing books’ magical power, a link between the past and the future, and a bridge between generations and cultures. On this occasion, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers, and libraries, select a city as the World Book Capital to maintain, through its initiatives, the impetus of the day’s celebrations until April 23rd of the following year.
This date, April 23rd, is symbolic in world literature. On that date, several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, all died. So this date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books – the most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of human space and time as well as the most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peacebuilding. UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity, and equal access to knowledge by championing books and copyright. 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.
Fatoumatta: Every year, a major celebration event at the UNESCO Headquarters. Booksellers, publishing companies, and artists are invited to share their passion for books and reading by conducting practical workshops [typography, illustration, bookbinding, manga, etc. for the young. UNESCO sincerely invites You to join this journey and cherish books as a valuable tool for knowledge-sharing, mutual understanding, and openness to a diversified world. This day also marks the death anniversary of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare, the English playwright, poet, and author, known for gifting the world some of the best plays and classics, died on April 23rd, 1616.
While the rumors that he was also born on this day in 1564 make a date even more enjoyable. In the United Kingdom, the day is recognized on the first Thursday in March. World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on April 23rd, 1995. Many took to social networking sites, prominently Twitter, to share pictures of their bookshelves and their favorite quotes by authors they cherished the month.
Fatoumatta: In 1995, UNESCO decided that World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on April 23rd, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors. Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date – April 23rd, 1616 – but not on the same day in a historical coincidence. At the time, Spain used the Gregorian calendar, and England used the Julian calendar; Cervantes died ten days before Shakespeare died… Yes, a library is the temple of books. You can find any textbook of any category very quickly. So make a habit of reading good books to become a good, humble, generous, positive, and successful person.