The day of the book: World Book and Copyright Day

Celebrating Literature and the Joy of Reading

We love books, and our friends at UNESCO agree. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization proposed World Book Day as a day of celebrating the joy of reading for enjoyment.

One hundred countries observe World Book Day, and why not?

Children who regularly read for enjoyment have higher test scores, develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures than their non-reading counterparts. Whether you read traditional paperbound books or turn to your Kindle/iPad/whatever, reading’s a passport to this and many other worlds. Support children with such good habits and make sure they gather the right information from what they read online. Scholaroo will help students navigate through research on scholarships as well as guide them towards further education best suited for them.

So celebrate with us on April 23!  Here’s how to harness your inner bookworm — and maybe get a free book.

When is World Book Day 2023?

The enjoyment of reading books is celebrated on World Book Day on April 23. It’s a day to celebrate the privilege of being able to read, so head to the library or curl up on the couch and just be a bookworm!

History of World Book Day

Reading is a stellar form of entertainment and it requires that you use your imagination rather than simply watching visuals on a screen. There is also something so therapeutic about the actual feel of a book, with its scent of printed pages and glossy covers. Books are a valuable aspect of society but this wasn’t always the case. 

When vocabulary and writing were developed thousands of years ago, clay tablets were used. This evolved into parchment and papyrus. The first form of a book was achieved by the Chinese in the 3rd century, although their books consisted of thick pages, made out of bamboo, that were stitched together. By the mid-15th century, the printing press revolutionized books to become what they are today and made them readily accessible for everyone. Thanks to this ingenious invention we are able to enjoy the prose and poetry of countless authors and poets — from Shakespeare and Tolstoy to George R.R. Martin.

World Book Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on April 23, 1995. This date is chosen because it is the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and prominent Spanish chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

Prior to this, there were several ideas on when World Book Day should be celebrated. Originally, Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés suggested that the day should be on a day that honored the author Miguel de Cervantes. This meant that it could either be on his birthday, on October 7, or the day he died, on April 23. Because the day he died coincided with the date on which William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega had also died, this date was chosen. Surprisingly, there are several other famous authors who have also died on April 23, like William Wordsworth and David Halberstam.   

Around the world, there are many other dates on which World Book Day takes place. The UK, Sweden, and Ireland all celebrate World Book Day on different dates.

World Book Day timeline

3500 B.C.

Tablet Engravings

The Sumerians engrave their alphabet onto clay tablets.

858 A.D.

The Very First Printed Book

In China, a book is printed using woodblocks with characters on them.


Penguin Publishing

The Penguin publishing company publishes ten books that go on sale in stores in paperback form.


Digital Reading

The reading tablet Kindle is released, storing thousands of books digitally and making them available on the go.

1,207,937 – the number of reading sessions started on Bookly in the past year.

8.27 – the number of books per person by which book sales fell in 2001.

359,803 – the number of books and e-books added on Bookly between 2019 and 2020.

16,555 – the number of audiobooks added on Bookly between 2019 and 2020.

909,394 – the number of reading sessions started by female users on Bookly between 2019 and 2020.

350,485 – the number of reading sessions started by male users on Bookly between 2019 and 2020.

25–34 – the ages between which the most books are read.

80 million – the number of active users on popular book site Goodreads.

24% – the percentage of American adults who have not read a book in 2018. 

6 – the number of books by Dr. Seuss that rank among the top 20 bestselling children’s books of all time.

World Book Day


Which day is known as World Book Day?

World Book Day is celebrated on April 23 every year.

WHO celebrates World Book Day?

World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. Organizers in the UK moved the observance to avoid clashes with Easter school holidays and with St George’s Day.

Why is World Book Day different in the UK?

Organizers in the UK moved the observance to avoid clashes with Easter school holidays and with St George’s Day.

How To Celebrate World Book Day 2021

  1. Dress like a literary character (Jay Gatsby, anyone?)

    Keep it fashionable like the Fitzgerald novel. Or go outlandish, wearing robes that invoke the spirit of Tolkien or dresses that are Jane Austen-inspired. Bonus points if you can encourage a group of friends or co-workers to join you!

  2. Support local booksellers

    Neighborhood bookstores bring so much to a community! Don’t have one where you live? Visit your local library and take out as many books as your arms can hold. Oh, make sure you have a library card first.

  3. Host a book club

    The only thing better than reading a fantastic book is talking about it with other people who love it as much as you do. Celebrate World Book Day by hosting a dinner based on your favorite book or series. It doesn’t have to be just adults either. Imagine your child’s excitement at having a dinner based on their favorite storybook. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle has tons of healthy (and some not-so-healthy) food in it that would make a great dinner.

    Or, if you’d prefer, go upscale and create a menu based on foodie fiction like “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg, or Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club.”

5 Facts About Reading

  1. Reading is self-care

    Reading reduces stress by 68%.

  2. Books are personal

    Children who own books are more likely to become regular readers than those who don’t have books at home.

  3. It all adds up

    Reading just 20 minutes a day equates to reading 1,800,000 words per year.

  4. It builds fluency

    Reading is the best way to build your vocabulary and this is most evident in children.

  5. Libraries are cool!

    Kids read 50% more books if they have a mini library in their classroom.

Why We Love World Book Day

  1. Free books

    Many companies will offer free eBooks to download to your device, so be sure to check out the offers and score as many as you can.

    In Spain, it’s customary to give books as presents on World Book Day. Kids in the UK receive tokens which they can take to a local bookseller for discounts. Sweden observes World Book Day with writing competitions across schools and colleges.

  2. Mass appeal

    Hard to believe, but sales of printed books are on the rise in the U.S. — again! Statista reports American bought nearly 700 million in 2018 — the most since 2010.

  3. Read our lips

    Studies show reading for pleasure can reduce cortisol levels, better known to most of us as stress. It also improves memory and brain function. Fiction helps readers step into another person’s shoes and makes us more empathetic. Reading also increases attention span and can help you live longer.

World Book Day dates

Year Date Day
2023 April 23 Sunday
2024 April 23 Tuesday
2025 April 23 Wednesday
2026 April 23 Thursday
2027 April 23 Friday

World Book Day (March 2nd, 2023)

Some people like to read the biographies of the most influential people in history, like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Ghandi. Some people like novels that send chills down their spines, from goth horror novels like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to Stephen King’s epistolary novel, “Carrie”. Some prefer the classics, like “Pride and Prejudice” or the “Old Man and the Sea”.

But regardless of the kind of books you like the most, the indisputable truth is that the world would not be the same without books. Books have been educating and inspiring us for thousands of years, so it should go without saying that World Book Day is a more than a well-deserved holiday.

Books are more than simple pieces of paper with words on them (or, in the case of digital books, a bunch of pixels on a screen). They’re a door into another world, whether that’s one full of fiction and imagination or a factual world that teaches you incredible new things. World Book Day is all about celebrating the wonderful power of books and the joy of reading. It’s especially meant to help encourage a love of reading in children, but people of all ages can recognize and celebrate the day.

World Book Day has a strong connection with schools, and it’s used worldwide to allow school children to engage with reading and their favorite books. It’s not just a day to indulge a love of books, but also a day where children and young people can gain access to books.

History of World Book Day

Books did not always look the way they do today, with their glossy covers and creamy pages. When writing systems were invented in ancient civilizations thousands of years ago, clay tablets were used. Later, humanity moved on to using papyrus. In the 3rd century, the Chinese were the first to make something that resembled today’s books in that they consisted of numerous thick, bamboo pages sewn together. Then, in the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press brought books into the industrial age, making them readily available to anyone who wanted to read them. It is thanks to than ingenious invention that we are all able to enjoy the works of Shakespeare, Tolstoy and many others in the comfort of our own homes today.

World Book Day was created on April 23rd, 1995, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The connection between that date and books, however, was made in Spain in 1923, as it is the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, prominent Spanish Chronicler.

There were a few ideas for the day of the year that World Book Day should be held. Originally, Vicente Clavel Andrés, a Valencian writer, suggested that the day should be on a day that honored the author Miguel de Cervantes. This would be either his birthday, October 7, or his death date, April 23. The latter date is the one that was chosen because it was also the date that William Shakespeare died and when Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died too. In fact, several other prominent authors have also died on April 23 – perhaps authors should be wary of this date!

In some countries, World Book Day actually takes place on other days of the year, despite the fact that the international event was created by UNESCO. For example, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ireland all celebrate their own World Book Day events on a different day. However, the international day has been held on the same day each year since it began in 1995.

World Book Day Timeline

4000 BC

While history is unclear about the exact timing, scrolls are used by well-educated people and act as the predecessors to books. [1]

1st Century AD

More compact and durable than scrolls, codices are developed to make papers easier to handle and travel with, especially when assembled of parchment paper with covers created from wood.[2]


Printing Press is Invented

The earliest mention of a printing press in historical records in Strasbourg, Germany in relation to Johannes Gutenburg.[3]


First Dictionary is Printed

The first English Dictionary is created by Richard Mulcaster.[4]


Booksellers in Spain Celebrate Cervantes

In a nod to Miguel de Cervantes, booksellers in Catalonia instigate a book exchange on April 23, in honor of the famous author’s death.[5]


Books are First Digitized

The first supplier of electronic books, Project Gutenberg begins at the University of Illinois when Michael Hart transcribes a copy of the Declaration of Independence at the University of Illinois in the US. The project continues as a free online library of more than 60,000 eBooks.[6]


World Book Day Inaugural Celebration

The United Nations makes a push toward literacy with World Book Day (also called World Book and Copyright Day). Since Catalonia traditionally celebrates on April 23, the United Nations keeps this date. Incidentally, the day coincides with what is celebrated as the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare.[7]

March 6, 1997

World Book Day Celebrated in UK and Ireland

While most countries celebrate Book Day in April, the UK and Ireland have a tradition of celebrating on the first Thursday in March. It began as Children’s book day, but has continued to foster reading for people of all ages.[8][9]


World Book Capital City Initiative Starts

This initiative seeks to motivate countries throughout the world to take part. Each year a capital city is chosen to maintain the drive of World Book Day all throughout the year, creating a deeper connection with literacy and publishing. World Book Capital for 2021 is Tbilisi, Georgia.[10]


World Book Night Begins

In an effort to move celebrations of reading into the evening and focus more on adults instead of children, World Book Night starts in the UK.[11]

How to celebrate World Book Day

Passionate book lovers can celebrate World Book Day in a number of ways, and spread the positive ways reading can affect your life. It’s the day when you can put some thought into how to encourage others to read more too, especially if you’re a parent or you work with students. You can read a favorite book and even read it out loud to children, young people, or perhaps some older people who would appreciate someone reading to them.

The absolute best way to celebrate this day would be to find the time to do some reading. Do you have a book you just can’t get around to finishing? Today’s the time to curl up on the couch or a blanket outside with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy every last page.

If you have children, this could be the perfect day to teach them about the joys of reading. In today’s world, we are so flooded with images and videos that we run a very real risk of abandoning reading entirely–why bother if we can just watch a movie? Imagination is a child’s best friend, so make sure you contribute to keeping that little imagination as active as possible. Pick a topic your child is interested in, and spend part of this day exploring the magical world of literature together!

Yet another way to go about celebrating this day would be to get together with some friends for a reading of a book you all love. Hearing someone read aloud sentences you have only ever murmured to yourself could cause you to see them in a whole new way by adding feeling or emphasis of some certain elements. Furthermore, varied interpretations of a book could make for animated discussions about who did what and why they did it.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate World Book Day, make sure it’s an educational experience for you and those you care about. As acclaimed author Alan Bennett once said: “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” World Book Day is a registered UK charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

Unlike some other days started by the UN, there are no themes for World Book Day, so you’re free to think up anything you like to celebrate. You can find various materials and inspiration from UNESCO each year, which will help to inspire you and encourage you to think of some creative ways to celebrate the day. You don’t need to be a teacher or someone who works with children to make this day a fun one, although it is a fantastic way to encourage children to read.

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World Book and Copyright Day

The world is like a book, and those who know only their country have read only the first page in it.
George Byron

April 23, a symbolic date for world literature, was the occasion for the establishment of World Book and Copyright Day (World Book and Copyright Day).

On this day in 1616 M. Cervantes, W. Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega passed away. It is also the birthday or death of such famous authors as Maurice Druon, Haldour Laxness, J. Pla and Manuel Mejia Vallejo.

It is only natural that the General Conference of UNESCO, held in Paris in 1995, decided to pay tribute to books and authors on this day, calling on everyone, and especially young people, to enjoy reading and to respect the irreplaceable contribution of those who contributed to the social and cultural progress of mankind . Then the World Book and Copyright Day and the UNESCO Prize for promoting the ideals of tolerance in children’s and youth literature were established.

The decision was made with the aim of education, development of awareness of cultural traditions, and also taking into account the fact that books are the greatest means of disseminating knowledge, the most reliable way to preserve it.

Thanks to the book, we get access not only to knowledge, but also to ideas, spiritual and moral values, to the understanding of beauty and the creative achievements of man. The carrier of information, the basis of education and creativity, the book allows each culture to tell about itself, introduces the customs and traditions of different peoples.

A book is a window into the world of cultural diversity, it is a bridge connecting different civilizations in time and space.

Book Day is now celebrated in more than one hundred countries by millions of people united in hundreds of different associations, it is celebrated in schools, government agencies, professional organizations and private enterprises. Over this long period of time, World Book and Copyright Day has made friends of the book to a large number of people from different cultures on all continents; it also contributed to the strengthening of copyright protection.

The book is a window into the world of cultural diversity, it is a bridge connecting different civilizations in time and space (Photo: Glenkar, licensed from Shutterstock. com) to give an important role to the book in the preservation and enhancement of the culture of each state. After all, a book is the best assistant in our common efforts to protect and enrich the cultural heritage of mankind.

Therefore, every year the number of various initiatives and events dedicated to this Day is growing, their geography is expanding. Traditionally, among the most popular in many countries of the world are book fairs and exhibitions, public readings of works by world classics of literature and various cultural and entertainment events.

There is another tradition around today’s holiday – every year, starting from 2001, on this day the city is named, which was awarded the title of World Book Capital (awarded for 1 year). The selection committee includes representatives of UNESCO and three international professional publishing organizations – the International Union of Publishers (IPU), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Federation of Booksellers (IFC).

This designation is a testament to the desire of cities to promote the development of book publishing and reading, as well as cooperation between the main partners in the book publishing business. Very different cities became world capitals of the book: Madrid (Spain), Alexandria (Egypt), New Delhi (India), Montreal (Canada), Bogota (Colombia), Beirut (Lebanon), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Yerevan (Armenia), Bangkok (Thailand), Port Harcourt (Nigeria), Wroclaw (Poland), Athens (Greece), Sharjah (UAE), Tbilisi (Georgia) and others.

• Infographic – poster “April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day”
• Story “In the Country”

World Book and Copyright Day


Why READING is more important now than ever!

Today, when most educational institutions around the world are closed and people have to limit their time outside, the power of books must be used to fight isolation, strengthen connections between people, expand our horizons and stimulate our mind and creativity.

During April and throughout the year, it is very important to spend time reading alone or with your children. This is a time to celebrate the importance of reading, promote children’s growth as readers, and promote a lifelong love of literature and integration into the world of work.

Through reading and celebrating World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, we will be able to open ourselves to others despite distances and travel through imagination. From 1 to 23 April UNESCO will share quotes, poems and messages that symbolize the power of books and encourage reading as much as possible. By creating a sense of community through shared readings and shared knowledge, readers around the world can come together and help each other overcome loneliness.

Under these circumstances, we invite students, teachers, readers from all over the world, as well as from the book industry and library services, to express their love of reading. We encourage you to share positive messages with other users using the hashtags #StayHome and #WorldBookDay. The more of us, the

we can give each other a lot of support.

Read My Hero Is You, a book of fairy tales for children about COVID-19.

A project developed by the IPC in collaboration with UNESCO and more than 50 international organizations


by an author, from a different universe or culture, and at the same time gives you the opportunity to deeply immerse yourself in your own world.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, Message on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day 2020

Download the full text of the message:

English | Francais | Español | Russian | العربية |中文

Latest News


The celebration of World Book and Copyright Day aims to promote the book industry and encourage reading. Every year on April 23, solemn events are held around the world to recognize the magical power of books – the connection between the past and the future, the bridge between generations and cultures. On this occasion, UNESCO and international organizations representing the three main sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, annually award one of the cities with the honorary title of World Book Capital. The elected city supports the celebration of the Day with its initiatives until April 23 next year.

April 23 is a symbolic date in world literature. This day is the anniversary of the death of a number of prominent writers: William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The UNESCO General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, chose this date to pay tribute to books and writers around the world, calling for everyone to be encouraged to have access to books.

Through the promotion of books and copyright, UNESCO advocates for creativity, diversity and equitable access to knowledge in all areas of its work, from the creation of the Literature Creative Cities Network to the promotion of literacy and learning through mobile devices, and the promotion of open access to scientific knowledge and educational resources.