Children in London, England, came to school dressed as their favorite book characters on World Book Day.
A British schoolgirl comes to class dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and a boy arrives as Willy Wonka. What day is it? No, it’s not Halloween. It’s World Book Day, and kids in the United Kingdom come to school that day dressed as their favorite characters from books.
In more than 100 countries, World Book Day is celebrated every year on April 23. UNESCO, part of the United Nations, declared World Book Day in 1995 as an annual celebration. Some cities hold relay readings of books and plays on that day. In the United Kingdom, all students receive vouchers for free books. They celebrate World Book Day in early March when school is still in session.
In the United States, World Book Day is a new celebration, and its traditions are just getting started. Last year on World Book Night U.S., 25,000 volunteers across the country gave away half a million books to people who don’t usually read.
The purpose of World Book and Copyright Day—its official name—is to encourage people to discover the pleasure of reading. People who love books also should know about copyright laws. These laws protect an author’s or publisher’s legal right to own the book.
UNESCO chose April 23 as World Book Day because several famous writers were born or died on that day. Two of them were William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. In Spain, where Cervantes lived, people give each other books and roses on April 23.
Every year, UNESCO selects a city and highlights what that city has done to help people read more. This year, UNESCO chose Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, as the World Book Capital City. Next year, Port Harcourt in Nigeria will be the World Book Capital City.
Image credit: ©Gideon Mendel/Corbis
- World Book Day Costumes
Watch this slide show of children in the United Kingdom dressed as their favorite characters in books.
- World Book Night U.S.
Find out more about World Book Night U.S. and see a video of events from 2012.