A young woman holding an electronic book with Victoria Woolf's face


The World Book and Copyright Day was first celebrated by UNESCO on April 23rd 1995 with a mission to recognise the power of books and reading and its influence on building sustainable and tolerant societies through the diversity of cultural expression, quality education and culture of peace. 

This worldwide celebration represents a valuable opportunity to promote together books, literacy programmes and cultural events as essential drivers for a better future. On this date UNESCO wants to pay a tribute to publishers and authors encouraging all individuals, in particular young people, to read and write, develop self-esteem, critical and creative thinking, embracing the intercultural dialogue and spreading knowledge around the world.

Shakespeare and Cervantes and humanism

The year 2016 is special, marking the 400th anniversary of the death of two exceptional writers: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. UNESCO is particularly focussing on the humanistic dimension in the work of the famous writers, notably: human rights and tolerance as these themes are some of the most important aspects supported and widely promoted by UNESCO. The legacy of these two great men goes far beyond literature and inspires entire generations to think about ever-relevant society issues, embracing the culture of peace as the core value of knowing how to live together.

World Book Day is celebrated worldwide

In order to encourage literacy, reading and the dialogue between people of different cultures, UNESCO looks to bring out the universal dimension of this internationally celebrated day. UNESCO identifies all events run by librarians, booksellers and publishers around the world as well as mobilising the broader public to actively participate in this promotion.

UNESCO: Spread the message together!

On the occasion of the World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO is launching an international photography competition #WordsofTolerance on social media. You may choose one of your favourite quotes from a famous author and illustrate it in a fun and creative way. Enter by 31 May. Find out more about the competition.

To support UNESCO’s initiative and show people around the world how this important day is celebrated, you are invited to visit World Book and Copyright Day to promote your literature-related events across 2016 by registering them on the UNESCO’s interactive map

Join UNESCO’s numerous partners and share your ideas and actions. By raising awareness of books and reading, you are helping changing lives and building a literate environment for all. For more information contact c.bordoni@unesco.org

UNESCO and World Book and Copyright Day logos

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