Rashford’s goal: Make kids love books
Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford is launching a book club so that all children can experience “the escapism of reading”.
Teaming up with Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB) to promote reading and literacy among children from all socio-economic backgrounds, Rashford said he wished he had the chance to read more as a child but his family had to prioritise food over books when it came to budgeting.
MCB said there will be a particular focus on getting books into the hands of children from vulnerable and under-privileged backgrounds.
“I only started reading at 17 and it completely changed my outlook and mentality,” Rashford said in a statement. “I just wish I was offered the opportunity to really engage in reading more as a child, but books were never a thing we could budget for as a family when we needed to put food on the table.”
Rashford’s book club will recommend titles that “will champion the works of young, emerging writers and illustrators from all backgrounds”, said Macmillan.
“There were times as a child the escapism of reading could have really helped me,” added Rashford. “I want this escapism for all children. Not just those that can afford it. We know there are approximately 400,000 children across the UK today that have never owned a book, children that are in vulnerable environments.
“That has to change. My books are, and will be, for every child, even if I have to deliver them myself. We will reach them.”
Rashford said acceptance and acknowledgment are a key focus of the project, adding: “Let our children read that they are not alone and enable them to dream. Equip them for obstacles and adversities they might face. Allow them to relate to characters by making sure people of all race, religion and gender are depicted correctly and representative of modern society. No matter where you grow up, talent should be recognised and championed.”
Rashford’s deal with Macmillan will also see the soccer star publish a range of fiction and non-fiction books.
The first will be co-created with Carl Anka, a journalist for The Athletic, and performance psychologist Katie Warriner, with the first title — YOU ARE A CHAMPION: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice And Be The BEST You Can Be — to be published in May 2021. The book is aimed at children aged 11-16.
Each chapter will begin with a story from Rashford’s own life and will cover topics such as: adversity; the value of education, positive mentality, understanding culture and female role models.
Two fiction titles for readers aged seven and up will follow later in 2022, according to the publisher.
Rashford, 23, has drawn widespread praise for highlighting the issue of child food poverty and his campaign for free school meal vouchers.