Origins of Book Day
The day chosen to hold Book Day has its origins in some of the most renowned writers in history. Three great authors of universal literature died on and around 23rd April 1616: Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Although it’s true that only the Spanish writer was buried on the 23rd, the deaths of the Briton and Peruvian date back to an age close to that of the creator of Don Quijote de la Mancha.
However, the celebration of this day devoted to literature goes back a long way in Spain. On 6th February 1926, King Alfonso XIII decided that every year Cervantes’ birth would be commemorated with a festival dedicated to books on 7th October.
The date 7th October chosen for the ephemeris proved to be short-lived. In 1930 it was definitively moved to 23rd April, the date corresponding to the writer’s death. The initial date chosen has become a target for criticism. Firstly, it is not known for certain whether Cervantes was born on 7th October. Secondly, some thought that, as it was a street festival for the people, it would be better to hold it in spring rather than autumn.
World Book Capital
The Spanish tradition of holding Book Day didn’t spread abroad until 1995, when the Spanish government submitted a proposal to the International Publishers Association to celebrate Book Day worldwide.
The great success of the Spanish initiative led to UNESCO’s decision to designate a city as World Book Capital every year. Thus, the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions have chosen a city to host the event every year since then.
Naturally, the first World Book Capital was Madrid in 2001. Bogotá, Amsterdam, Athens and Buenos Aires have also been awarded the role of the cosmos of literature in different years. In this atypical year the city of Tbilisi in Georgia has the honour of taking centre stage in terms of world literature.
Didactic activities for Book Week
ProFuturo encourages you to celebrate Book Day with your students and children with these activities. Travel with them into the world of words, teach them to tell stories or discover the importance of the alphabet.