April 23rd is an important date in the calendar for Spain for a number of reasons, none less so than World Book Day. Find out how Spain celebrates the Día del Libro.
On 23rd April, World Book and Copyright Day – to give it the full title – will be celebrated all over the world. The UNESCO observance day is when the world is encouraged to read and enjoy literature.
Why 23rd April?
23rd April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.
World Book Day also coincides with St. George’s Day (Sant Jordi in Catalonia), a story that has captivated people’s imagination through the centuries. In Spain, World Book Day is used to celebrate, in particular, the author of Don Quixote – Miguel Cervantes – with the presentation of a prize bearing his name.
The festival of Sant Jordi
In Catalonia, World Book Day coincides with the popular festivity of Sant Jordi. According to tradition, on this day it is customary to give the gift of a book to men and a rose to women. Of course, today there are many women who may well prefer it the other way round!
Ordinarily, Barcelona transforms into an enormous open-air bookshop cum florist’s, full of stalls with authors signing copies of their work. However, even the covid pandemic cannot put a complete stop to this celebration.
In 2021, Sant Jordi Day will be local and without crowds to avoid the spread of COVID-19. In Barcelona, book and flower shops will be able to sell their products on the street between April 21 and 23, and on Sant Jordi Day a dozen open-air fairgrounds with controlled access will be set up throughout the city.
Book Night, Madrid
Usually, over 100 bookshops stay open until midnight with a special cultural programme running alongside. What’s more, anyone who buys a book on that day will be given a 10% discount off the price.
In 2021, Madrid still has a number of organised activities for audiences of all ages. They will be entertained with words from the page, encouraged to read and learn about the importance of words.
Throughout the weekend, the XXVII National Meeting of Oral Narration in Alcalá de Henares, will fill the stage with magic with their stories. The Old Hospital of Santa María La Rica will witness proposals such as “A word, a sound, an image”, dedicated to babies; the Galician and European legends and tales of “When did a tongue of fire travel in a hay wagon?”; even the original “Colorín, Colorete”, which will give an unexpected twist to children’s stories.
The Cervantes Birthplace Museum will host on April 23 a poetry recital and a public reading adapted to the new times. La Mancha poet Mariana Romero-Nieva will recite verses from Soledad, Hombre de campo or Mi tierra in “Cervantes y la Mancha”, while “El Quijotito” will reinterpret one of the author’s most famous works. Admission is free until full capacity is reached.
For more details on World book Day related activities, visit the Madrid tourism site.
Later in the year, Madrid will hold its annual Book Fair. The 80th edition runs from 10 to 26 September 2021.
Share a story
The importance of reading and storytelling should not be overlooked. For children it is an important part of their development. Sharing stories doesn’t have to be just reading from the book. Look at books with them, talk about what you see and when they re really small, they then learn how to turn the pages.
By reading, or sharing stories, your child:
- gets to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills
- learns to value books and stories
- is stimulated, their curiosity and imagination sparked.
- Increases their ability to focus, concentrate, and improve social and communication skills
- learns the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’
- understands new or frightening events, and the strong emotions that come with them
- learns about the world, their own culture and other cultures.
This World Book Day, why don’t you give a friend, child or relative a book to enjoy.
To celebrate World Book and Copyright Day, InSpain.news has a series next week on Spanish language authors.