As ever, it started with a tweet.
After his success addressing food poverty, Marcus Rashford MBE reiterated on Wednesday that he intended to get books to the 390,000 children in the UK who had never owned one.
“Time for that to change,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Manchester United footballer shared his new mission alongside the news that he’s releasing a book called You Are a Champion, a practical guide for children to “dream big” and use positive thinking to make a success of themselves.
According to the Guardian, it will cover broad themes such as the importance of education, female role models, mental resilience, and using your voice for good, all using anecdotes from Rashford’s own life and career.
It will be published on May 27, written alongside performance psychologist Katie Warriner and Carl Anka, a sports journalist from The Athletic.
As part of the Marcus Rashford Book Club model, books I am championing will reach the most vulnerable children via the breakfast club network. Further details to follow. Approx 390,000 children in the UK have never owned a book. Time for that to change @MacmillanKidsUK— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) March 24, 2021
In November 2020, Rashford launched a book club with Macmillan Children's Books to get children across Britain reading.
The partnership involves Rashford publishing a series of his own books, while giving away books from the publisher’s own works to champion creatives from all backgrounds.
He has previously revealed that he only started reading aged 17, because it was something his family could never budget for. Now, he wants to ensure reading is not merely a privilege just for people who can afford it.
Almost exactly a year ago, Rashford joined forces with Fairshare, a charity food network, to help children struggling to access nutritious meals during the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown. In just six weeks, over 2 million meals were delivered to vulnerable kids across the country.
The rest is history: after a public campaign, he twice forced the government to change direction on providing free school meals to children during half term. After hundreds of thousands of people signed his petitions, hundreds of millions of pounds in funding was pledged.
It was a lifeline for millions at a moment of sustained hardship.
In addition, Rashford set up a task force in September 2020 to tackle food poverty, with some of the UK’s biggest food brands, including Lidl, Deliveroo, and more.
In a Twitter Q&A on Wednesday, Rashford said he could never engage with reading as a child because he could never see himself in the characters. He added that there would be audio versions of You Are a Champion that will raise money for children with learning difficulties.
“There were times where the escapism of reading could have really helped me,” he said. “I want this escapism for all children. Not just those that can afford it.”