‘Words, Words, Words’
Have you ever heard about a person whose birthday and death are celebrated on the same day? This uncommon situation refers to the author of the above quote – William Shakespeare. He was born in April 1564 and although the exact date of his birth remains unclear, it is assumed to have fallen on 23rd April. The belief is based on the church recordings concerning his baptism. Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616. Since the 23rd of April is also the date when two other outstanding authors, namely Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, died, as a tribute paid to them UNESCO chose, during its General Conference held in Paris in 1995, the 23rd of April to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day to promote literacy and reading. Each year a specific theme for the celebrations is chosen, the 2023 theme being Indigenous Languages. Each year the World Book Capital is also designated. The 2023 capital is Accra in Ghana, in 2024 it will be Strasbourg in France. The cities are responsible for organizing activities encouraging people to take pleasure in entering the world of books as well as facilitating general access to knowledge.
That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. /Jhumpa Lahiri/
Europeana for Bookworms
By offering the digitalized version of cultural heritage, Europeana lets you travel through generations and cultures. The impressive numbers of over one million results you get when searching for the topic of books and over sixty-four thousand results connected with the one of reading culture, guarantee something of interest to every bookworm. The great ‘Poets and Writers’ collection is the place where you will find engaging stories and biographies of different authors. Do not miss the fantastic Travelling Through the Pages blog post that will enable you to discover Europe through literature. Having enjoyed reading about Chapbooks (check out the post if interested in street literature or if you want to find out why chapbooks were read aloud) and the 16th century e-reader (I am still smiling when comparing the device to my personal e-reader:), I can strongly recommend the articles. Fans of fairy tales will definitely appreciate reading the following blog posts: Once Upon a Time: Finding Fairytales in Collections and Do You Love Fairy Tales, while for those still remembering Pippi Longstocking a meeting with Astrid Lindgren: Storyteller of Childhoods is simply a must!
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. /George R. R. Martin/
Raising Bookworms in Your Classroom
World Book and Copyright Day is undoubtedly a perfect occasion to promote the habit of reading among our students in such a way that they do not treat it as a dull, tiring chore that needs to be done and is limited only to boring, in their opinions, set books, but as an experience that opens the door to the world of ‘a uniquely portable magic’, citing Stephen King’s definition of books. Bearing in mind the importance of reading, Europeana educators have created numerous learning scenarios devoted to the topic, including the following ones:
- Books as the Purpose of Life
- Shakespeare with Europeana
- Black Cats, Broken Mirrors and Others – Let’s Talk About Superstitions
- Cultural Literacy: from National Culture Day to Children’s Book Day
- From Reading to INclusion
- Intertextuality and Critical Reading: the Interest of Parody (Little Red Riding Hood)
And why not go one step further? If your students are not big fans of reading books written by other authors, introduce them to the challenge posed by Toni Morrison, ‘If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ Check out the learning scenarios provided below for some ideas you can implement in your classroom:
- Fairy Tale and Imagination: Making Magic Happen
- Book Design Workshop
- You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Or Can You?
Having tested the latter myself in my classroom, I can assure you that young people can rise to the challenge of Toni Morrison.
I am leaving you with the reflection. It is time to reach for one of my favorite books to live one of my thousand lives.
By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador
CC BY-SA 3.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Nationalmuseet Sweden.
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