Footballer Marcus Rashford is launching a book club to ensure all children can enjoy the escapism of reading. As the BBC reports, the Manchester United and England player is teaming up with Macmillan Children’s Books to promote reading and literacy among children from all socio-economic backgrounds, and focus on getting books into the hands of vulnerable and underprivileged children.
As part of the collaboration, Macmillan Children's Books will donate 50,000 books to be distributed to more than 850 primary schools across England and Scotland through children's food charity Magic Breakfast. The schools will include pupil referral units (PRU) and special educational needs (SEN) schools. The BBC reported that the aim of the book club is to encourage children who may not otherwise have access to books to find enjoyment and escapism in reading.
Children will be encouraged to take the books home to keep as their own. The book club will launch in June 2021 and will begin with A Dinosaur Ate My Sister, written by Pooja Puri and illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan.
Commenting on the scheme, the footballer revealed his own lack of opportunity to read more as a child is what inspired the project. "I only started reading at 17, and it completely changed my outlook and mentality," Rashford told the Guardian. "I just wish I was offered the opportunity to really engage with 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."
"There were times where the escapism of reading could have really helped me. I want this escapism for all children. Not just those that can afford it. We know there are over 380,000 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 always will be, for every child, even if I have to deliver them myself. We will reach them."
Magic Breakfast will help distribute the books along with the healthy breakfasts they supply for an estimated 170,000 children every school day. “Now more than ever, families are facing hardship and for too many it’s a struggle to put food on the table – these children often miss out on the joy of brand new books at home to own and re-read,” Rachael Anderson, head of schools at Magic Breakfast said in a statement to Indy100, “We know children at our partner schools will be delighted to have a Marcus’ Book Club book of their own to take home and keep, and this will help inspire a new generation of children to discover the joy of reading.”
Working alongside journalist Carl Anka and performance psychologist Katie Warriner, Rashford will also publish his own illustrated non-fiction book titled YOU ARE A CHAMPION: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice And Be The BEST You Can Be, which is set for release in May 2021.
It’s aimed at high school children and each chapter will begin with a tale from Rashford's own life — covering topics such as education, positive mentality, understanding culture, and female role models. The book will then be followed by two additional fiction titles for readers aged 7+, which are expected to be released later in 2021 and 2022.
To support Rashford's latest project — which follows on from his hugely successful free school meals campaign — you can pre-order a copy of YOU ARE CHAMPION: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be The BEST You Can Be online now.
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