April 22, 2012

World Book & Copyright Day: April 23

World Book and Copyright Day a.k.a. International Day of the Book was inaugurated in 2003 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as April 23
By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.
From UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day 
at http://ow.ly/ark98

The UNESCO website for World Book and Copyright Day tells of the origin of this celebration as Catalonia where, on 23 April (Saint George's Day) a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.  Coincidentally, April 23 is also the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth (1564 ) and death (1616), and the death of Miguel de Cervante (1616), although the issue of the Gregorian versus Julian calendar may negate this claim.

Because 2012 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Index Translationum, an international database of bibliographic information about translated books, the focus of World Book Day is books and translation.

The answer to the inevitable question of why translation matters is well answered by the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova who addressed this in her Message for World Book and Copyright Day 2012
Translation is the first step towards the rapprochement of peoples, and is also a decentralizing experience, teaching diversity and dialogue. Translation is one of the driving principles of our creative diversity, which enriches each language through contact with all the others. 
For teachers interested in commemorating this date with specific activities, consider:
  • discussing plagiarism and pirating of copyrighted materials;
  • reading the same book in different translations to assess accuracy and validity of the translation (from children's perspective);
  • listening to audio books in different languages;
  • discussing the value of translated books;
  • allowing book trades between children to share their love of reading;
  • calculating the proportion of books in the school library which would be worthy of translation into another language and discuss why; and 
  • having older students translate a well-known CanLit picture book into their own mother tongue.

n.b. Some countries, such as Ireland and the United Kingdom, celebrate "World Book Day" on alternative days, such as March 1.

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