The world would not be the same without books

pic: Pixabay

WHEN writing systems were invented in ancient civilisations thousands of years ago, clay tablets were used. Later, humanity moved on to using papyrus. In the third 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.

Mediaeval books were hand-written on parchment and were so valuable that they were chained to the shelves of libraries.

Then, in the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenburg’s printing press brought books into the industrial age, making them readily available to anyone who wanted to read them. It is thanks to that 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 23 1995, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The connection between April 23 and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Catalonia, Spain. The original idea was of the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on this date.

The date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors.

In a historical coincidence, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date – April 23, 1616 – but not on the same day as, at the time, Spain had already switched to the Gregorian calendar and England still used the Julian calendar; Cervantes actually died 10 days before Shakespeare did.

The absolute best way to celebrate World Book Day would be 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 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. 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!

Or get together with some friends and take turns in reading aloud. Someone else’s interpretation could give a book a whole new meaning for you. However 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.”

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