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10 fun bookish things to do on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day

August 01, 2019 by Nóra Wünsch-Nagy

What do you feel when you are surrounded by books? Excitement? Curiosity? A sense of adventure? On April 23rd take a trip to your favourite book place: a bookshop, a library, or your bookshelf in your own home.

April 23rd is an important date for various cultural reasons: it is UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, English Language Day, Shakespeare's birthday and his date of death. It's also Saint George's Day (England's national day). Other prominent authors died on this day: Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. It gives us a good opportunity to celebrate not only English language and literature, but also books in their many forms. As this quote from Irina Bokova on the United Nation's dedicated page reminds us,

"Literacy is the door to knowledge, essential to individual self-esteem and empowerment. Books, in all forms, play an essential role here."

On this day we can celebrate both paper and digital books. Although for many of us the physical, paper book is still the 'real thing', digital books are gaining more and more appreciation and popularity. At the same time, we are still enchanted by the aesthetic and physical aspects of the paper book: the design, the shape, the paper quality, the smell of the pages. Let's share our love of books then!

Here are some ideas you can do yourself and some more you can do in class or with your book club/reading circle.

1 Learn about books and book arts.

My students are always fascinated to find out about book design, printmaking, bookbinding and the physical aspects of the book. We wish we could all attend the courses offered by The Centre for Book Arts. If you cannot organise a workshop in your school, look for online materials. Here are some of the plenty fascinating videos available to watch about letterpress printing, book arts, bookbinding and book printing.


2 Brush up your bookish vocabulary.

How many of these words do you know? Write them on sticky notes and ask your students to mark their own books.

front cover | back cover | spine | page | gutter | end paper | half title page | table of contents | front matter | glossary | colophon

10 Fun Bookish Things to Do on World Book Day
Origami owl bookmark in the Helbling Reader David and the Black Corsair by Martyn Hobbs. © Helbling Languages


3 Make your own books, and do some bookish arts & crafts.

Have you ever made your own bookmarks? Have you prepared covers for your books? What about the traditional ex libris (bookplate)? Visit our post on arts and crafts ideas in your Book Club.

4 Rearrange your bookshelf.

How tidy is your bookshelf? We often buy a new book, put it on the shelf not having the time to immediately read it. Spend some time with your books, put them in thematic or alphabetical order, dust them, check what's inside them. You might come across old favourites you have long forgotten about, and you might find books you haven't read yet.

5 Create a reading nook in your home our in your classroom.

If you love reading, you know that a comfortable chair, sofa, pillows, bed is essential for a successful reading experience. Create your own little nook, or create a reading corner in your classroom or library where people can chill out for a few minutes with a good book.

6 Bring your favourite book to school.

Ask your students to bring their favourite books to school on the week of 23rd April. Bring your own children's book and a contemporary novel you really enjoyed. We are often unaware of what our students are really keen on reading.

7 Revisit a book you used to like.

You can also ask students (and even colleagues) to find an old book they liked as children. Read this book again to see if you can find new details.

8 Make a book exhibition with a book exchange.

You can also create a book exhibition in the school library or school hall. Here are some themes:

  • Our oldest books
  • Our top 10 favourite books
  • The books every student in the school has read.
  • Books about animals/sports/history
  • Our favourite young adult novels
  • Our favourite comics and graphic novels

9 Read a classic literary work.

Since World Book Day falls on the birth and death date of many famous authors, we can honour their memory by reading some of their classic works. Encourage your students to read a classic literary text in its original (even in translation). Your students might ask why it is so important. Talk about why experiencing the original version of things is important. For example, just hearing about how good ice-cream tastes and actually tasting the real thing are very different experiences. If you have low level students, who cannot manage reading the original texts, they can become familiar with an adaptation in order to develop an interest for the real thing.

10 Learn about copyright.

April 23rd is also Copyright Day. Here are some questions to discuss with advanced students.

  • Is there an Intellectual Property or Patent Office in your country? What do they do?
  • What is plagiarism?
  • Why do you always have to use references and quotes?
  • What are the APA, MLA and Chicago style sheets?
  • Where can you find them on the Internet?

Share your World Book Day school activities with us in the comments below!

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