"In these turbulent times, books embody the diversity of human ingenuity, giving shape to the wealth of human experience, expressing the search for meaning and expression we all share, that drive all societies forward. Books help weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared, where all voices are heard in the great chorus of human aspiration." — Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
23 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 and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on the 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the magical power of books a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.
It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. With this in mind, UNESCO created the World Book and Copyright Day.
It is said that how a society treats its most vulnerable is a measure of its humanity. When we apply this measure to the availability of books to those with visual impairments and those with learning or physical disabilities (with different causes), we are confronted with what can only be described as a ‘book famine’. According to the World Blind Union, approximately one in every 200 people on Earth 39 million of us cannot see. Another 246 million have severely reduced vision. These ‘visually impaired persons’ or ‘persons with a print disability’ can access an estimated 10% of all written information and literary works that sighted people can read.
We, at World Assembly of Youth (WAY), recognise that youth, nowadays, are struggling in extremely various situations with diverse traces and perspectives, mental and social growth. In addition, the existence of technology, which with no doubt brings in a lot of amenities into our life, has influenced young people’s preferences on entertainment leading most of them spending lesser leisure-time on reading.
Acknowledging on the challenges encountered in our society today, we urge young people to develop a habit of reading regularly so as to increase their knowledge on various subject matters. Our encouragement towards reading has even gone further than just raising awareness amongst young people as we continue to publish resourceful reading materials such as news, press releases, and even book especially those related to youth issues.
Therefore, through the commemoration of World Book and Copyright Day, we wish to reiterate our intention of encouraging young people to continuously appreciate books and treasure the value obtained by reading them. As we, at WAY, believe that books are the treasure of literacy, they are miraculous in their every word and imaginative sentences.