Inspired by Marcus Rashford? Here’s how you can support local literacy

family reading
family reading
11:26am, Tue 17 Nov 2020
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Adding to his list of achievements, Marcus Rashford is setting up a book club for kids.

The 23-year-old footballer and activist has been praised for his work fighting child food poverty this year, and now he’s collaborating with Macmillan Children’s Books to promote reading and literacy among children from all backgrounds.

Rashford says: “I only started reading at 17, and it completely changed my outlook and mentality. 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.”

Marcus Rashford

The Marcus Rashford Book Club will launch next year, and the partnership will also publish its first title in May 2021. YOU ARE A CHAMPION: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice And Be The BEST You Can Be is an illustrated non-fiction book for young people aged 11-16, covering Rashford’s personal journey, as well as issues such as education and positive mentalities.

If Rashford has inspired you to support literacy, both in your local community and at home, here’s how you can help…

Support literacy charities

If you’re able to, you can donate money to your local literary charities, who support poor communities through schemes and book donations. You can donate to the National Literacy Trust in the UK, or Suas in Ireland.

Give away your old books

It’s not just money you can donate – books are also welcome. The Literacy Trust recommends sending your second-hand books to Better World Books, a company that accepts donations and resells books. For every book sold, it donates another to someone in need, while also raising money for literacy initiatives. Many libraries across the UK and Ireland also accept donations.

Champion diverse books

When talking about his new book club, Rashford said: “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.”

If you’re a parent or carer, introduce diversity into your child’s reading list to broaden their world view and give them new perspectives to relate to. You can also support publishers championing diverse authors – like Penguin’s imprint Merky Books – to ensure more underrepresented voices are heard.

Read with kids

Mother reading a bedtime story

This one sounds simple, but it’s hard for many people to find the time to read with their children. However, carving out even just a bit of time to read together will go a long way – and it doesn’t have to be an expensive habit, as you can borrow books for free. If your local library is closed right now because of Covid restrictions, you can still access ebooks – check your library’s website for more information.

After reading with your children, it’s also a good idea to ask them what they thought about the book – what they liked about it, how it made them feel – to help them engage more deeply.

Encourage younger family members or friends

Even if you don’t live with any young people, you can still encourage them to love reading. If you’re able to, you can post them books to read – with the caveat they have to write you a short review when they’re done, before you send the next book. Yes, it’s bribery – but it’s positive bribery, and will hopefully help children experience reading in a new way.

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