Marcus Rashford launches Book Club to give kids the bedtime stories he never had because his mum was too busy working

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11:36 | 18 Nëntor 2020

GROWING up on a tough housing estate, Marcus Rashford didn’t realise other children were read bedtime stories until he saw it in movies.

As his hard-working mum Melanie toiled day and night to put food on the table, books were lower down the list of priorities.As a youngster Marcus Rashford didn’t realise other children were read bedtime stories

As a youngster Marcus Rashford didn’t realise other children were read bedtime storiesRashford and his mum Melanie holding a Premier League Man of the Match award

Rashford and his mum Melanie holding a Premier League Man of the Match awardRashford rose through the ranks of Manchester United's academy to become a star striker

Rashford rose through the ranks of Manchester United’s academy to become a star striker
The England star exclusively told The Sun: “I wasn’t to know that it was a normal thing for somebody to be read a bedtime story.

“It’s something I’d only seen in films. But films are films, not reality.”

It wasn’t until he was 17 that the Manchester United forward began to experience the joy of reading books which he credits with helping shape his character.

Now, fresh from inspiring a double Government U-turn on free school meals, Marcus is turning his campaigning zeal to encouraging youngsters to read by setting up his own book club.

The 23-year-old revealed: “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.

“My mum used to tell me stories and she’d make me laugh but we never had books to read together. I thought of books as part of school and that was it.

“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.”

MAKING HIS MARC
Today he’s using the pages of The Sun to announce the Marcus Rashford Book Club which aims to get youngsters reading – especially those from vulnerable and under privileged backgrounds.

Speaking via a Zoom interview after missing out on England’s Sunday evening match against Belgium with a shoulder injury, he revealed “I only started reading books when I was 17 and it completely changed my outlook and mentality.Rashford in action for Manchester United against Arsenal this season

“It showed me different parts of myself that I didn’t know existed.

“I think that if I’d read books when I was younger it would have made me grow up a lot quicker. I feel books can help children become what they want to become.Rashford is writing his own fiction book 'HOW TO BE A CHAMPION'

“Looking forwards, books will be a priority when I have children.”

As he outlines his latest dream of getting kids reading, Marcus speaks with a calm and persuasive sincerity.

The campaigner believes that social media-obsessed young people should take breaks from their phones and try and engage with a book.

Mature beyond his years, Marcus revealed: “Sometimes it’s important for me to just switch my phone off and leave what I call ‘that world’ because it overrides so much.

“People are always on their phones. I have it with my nephew, he’s always on his phone or he’s always gaming.

“I just try and make sure he’s aware that even one hour a day, or half an hour a day, if you read just 10, 20 or 30 pages, it will all add up.

“If we can start to do that a bit more reading and a little bit less on things like phones and iPads, then I think it’ll help children a lot.”Rashford as a schoolboy at a breakfast club for young children

TURNING A PAGE
Teaming up with Macmillan Children’s Books, Marcus will help choose books that he thinks will appeal to young people while making sure children from all backgrounds are represented.

The tomes will appear in stores with the Marcus Rashford Book Club stamp and he’ll promote them on his social media channels.Street artist Akse painted this mural of Rashford on the side of a cafe in Withington, Manchester

For those from underprivileged backgrounds, he’ll team up with charities to give away books for free, saying: “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.”

He’s also writing his own non fiction work, in partnership
with football journalist with Carl Anka and performance psychologist
Katie Warriner.

YOU ARE A CHAMPION: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be the BEST You Can Be – will be published in May 2021 with his book club to follow.

And he’ll also pen two children’s fiction books aimed at the over sevens which are due to be published in 2022.

Sam Smith, Marcus’ publisher from Macmillan Children’s Books, said the company was “thrilled” and “proud” to be working with the “can do” player.

She added: “We hope when people hear how important reading is to Marcus that it will not only inspire a new generation of readers but also writers and illustrators.”Despite being a global football star Rashford regularly visits his old neighbourhood in Wythenshawe, Manchester

CHARACTER BUILDING
Marcus says one reason he believes he didn’t connect with books at schools was because he didn’t often see characters in their pages that he could relate to.

He added: “Children need to be able to picture themselves being that character in a book.

“We’re definitely going to have characters that come in all different shapes, sizes, religions, colours, everything.”

His favourite book – which he’s read four times – is Relentless by basketball trainer Tim Grover which breaks down “what it takes to be unstoppable”.

Rashford – his eyes alight as he enthuses about the power of books – is a man who while reaching the glittering peak of Britain’s most popular sport has never forgotten where he’s from.

A tattoo on his midriff shows a little boy under a cherry tree with a football at his feet.

Behind him is an etching of the terraced home where Marcus grew up on the tough Northern Moor estate in the Wythenshawe area of Manchester.

Despite being a global football star Rashford regularly visits his old neighbourhood in Wythenshawe, ManchesterCredit: PA:Press Association
The youngest of five siblings from a single-parent family, Marcus tells me: “I go back to my area pretty much every day.

Marcus says his single mum Melanie – who worked a variety of jobs with family members sometimes relying on food banks and soup kitchens – is very much his heroine.

The footballer added: “I’d seen her go through things day to day that children shouldn’t really see.

“I saw how hard she worked, how strong she’s been to make herself a life.

“And then I see her now, where she’s comfortable, she’s happy, but she still rings me every day to speak to me about things that I’m doing.

“And she wants me to keep going no matter what people are saying.”

‘I KNOW WHO I AM’

On Sunday, Marcus reacted on Twitter to a newspaper story which described him as a “campaigning football star” and detailed how he had bought five properties worth £2m this year which are expected to be used as buy-to-let investments.

The star wrote: “Ok, so let’s address this. I’m 23. I came from little. I need to protect not just my future but my family’s too.

“To do that I made a decision at the beg of 2020 to start investing more in property. Please don’t run stories like this alongside refs to ‘campaigning’.”

“It’s normal for me, and it’s normal for my community to see me there, so I feel like that link is so strong it will never disappear.

“So I never lose sight of where I come from, because I truly believe that it made me the person I am, and was probably the biggest factor to help me get to where I am today.”

His book YOU ARE a CHAMPION – written with football journalist with Carl Anka and performance psychologist Katie Warriner – will include a chapter on female role models.

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