World Book Day celebrations critical to shape societies

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By Admire Kudita

It is celebrated Nigerian author Ben Okri who said: “To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself . . .”

Thus, nations are shaped by the stories that its writers tell. On March 3, the United Kingdom held its annual national book day, held on that month’s first Thursday.

That nation’s storytellers were celebrated in the book list that is annually produced to mark the occasion and promote the culture of reading.

Books such as The Bold’s Great Adventure, written by Julian Clary and illustrated by David Roberts, The Girl Who Thought She Was a Dog, written by Clare Balding, illustrated by Tony Ross and Marvel Avengers: The Greatest Heroes are some of the books that made that country’s reading list by event organisers.

The celebration involves children of all ages going to school dressed as characters in the stories.

In Spain, Cervantes’ Don Quixote is read in a readathon with a Cervantes prize being presented by the Spanish monarch.
World Book and Copyright Day is officially to be marked on April 23 annually.

The first occasion was in 1995. The day was first recognised by Spanish booksellers and by writer Vicente Clavel Andres, who observed that Miguel de Cervantes, a famous author of books such as Don Quixote, died on 23. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation decided that World Book Day would be marked on April 23, as it was also the death date of English literary giant William Shakespeare, as well as Inca Darcilaso de la Vega. Several other authors died on this particular date. Reading is a culture that is vital to the intellectual development of people within any society.

Interestingly, the world’s richest men such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are on record for citing reading as one of their most critical success habits. Hopefully, responsible Zimbabwean authorities will see the need to mark this important occasion this year.

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