April 23rd is the day for all the book lovers and bookworms as today the world celebrates World Book Day’ or World Book and Copyright Day’: World Book Day’ is celebrated by UNESCO every year on April 23rd. The date was selected by UNESCO to pay tribute to great literary figures like William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes, and Vladimir Nabokov and may more.

Those of us who were born in the 1960s did not wake up to the very rich intrusion of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There was no YouTube, there was no WhatsApp, there was no mobile phone. What was called telephone was some wired device which was declared out of bounds to the poor. There was something called Telegram then but not your today’s encrypted platform for secret data and voice calls.

What we lacked in these virtual things, we got in books – great books written by great authors who filled our supple hearts with soundness and nuanced our impressionable minds with thoughts of justice and peace. We did not climb the palm tree from the fronds. We were not started as force-fed toddlers made

The system thereafter quietly unlocked for us its library of full-story books. And this is not just about Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer and George Orwell. We filled our social and knowledge world with local and foreign plays and novels – detective, romance, fantasy, science, and mystery.

Many bought and read all the almost 100 James Hadley Chase’s enthralling thrillers. The very romantic would clutch on to their Barbara Cartland and her Lessons in Love, and her other stories of dreams at night; they would add to those stories Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and then, Sense and Sensibility.

There were Mills and Boons books too. The bookish got hooked to Heinemann’s African Writers series. Also, we had The Pacesetters series with their varied themes and beauty, cover to cover.

The date, April 23rdwas finalized in the year 1995 in the UNESCO General Conference, held in Paris, to honor authors and book worldwide. This year marks the 24th edition of the World Book Day’ and this year it will celebrate literature and reading while focusing particularly on the importance of enhancing and protecting indigenous languages.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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