The COVID-19 pandemic and the global response to it have severely limited public celebration of this year's World Book Day but online activities are still underway to promote the power of reading which the United Nations believes should be leveraged more than ever at a time of lockdown, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) told Xinhua on Wednesday.
A whole day of events planned at its headquarters in Paris with different partners had to be cancelled. Several weeks ago, the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, World Book Capital for 2020, cancelled its very high-profile opening ceremony scheduled for April 22, the eve of this year's World Book Day, said UNESCO press officer Clare O'Hagan.
However, some activities still take place online. Sharjah (the United Arab Emirates), World Book Capital 2019, is to celebrate a year of literature, arts, culture and heritage with live streaming for the official closing ceremony on Wednesday.
On Thursday, European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) has various online national reading initiatives around the world.
The State Library of New South Wales organizes online library events all day to share its selection of Australia's most significant Shakespeare collection and over 1,100 rare editions of Don Quixote.
The volunteers of the French association "Lire et faire Lire" (read and make others read) will take turns throughout the day reading tales for children. At the end of this reading marathon, a 2020 list of favourite books will be established.
Cambridge University press Academic will run an online free webinar on Open Access and public policy for monographs.
As to the scheduled events in Kuala Lumpur, the UNESCO press officer said the current lockdown in Malaysia would obviously affect the city's ability to implement their programme of activities as was planned, probably until September.
"UNESCO will consult with the mayor's office and the WBC organizing team to draw up a list of priorities for the Capital," she added.
In 1995, UNESCO's General Conference decided to make April 23 the World Book and Copyright Day to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors and encourage everyone, young people in particular, to discover the pleasure of reading.
Earlier in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced most of the schools around the world to close and billions of people to limit their time spent outside, the UNESCO noted that the power of books is more important than ever to be leveraged to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand horizons, while stimulating minds and creativity.
"During the month of April and all year round, it is critical to take the time to read on your own or with your children," it said in a press release. "It is a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children's growth as readers and promote a lifelong love of literature and integration into the world of work." Enditem