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Marcus Rashford MBE has backed a campaign by the supermarket Aldi to donate 100,000 books to children this summer.
The England footballer said he began reading books as a teenager but the “escapism and joy” of reading could have benefitted him significantly as a child.
“I didn’t read properly until I was 17, and I don’t want that for others like me,” Rashford said.
“The escapism and joy you can get from reading could have benefitted me significantly as a child.”
As part of the campaign Rashford has narrated an animation called My Reading Journey, that has been commissioned by Aldi and illustrated by Lisa Stickley.
The story follows a young boy who is gifted a book by his neighbour and shows how his bus journey is transformed as he reads and imagines the different characters.
Rashford said: “The issue was always access and representation – two areas that the Marcus Rashford Book Club focuses on.”
“Struggling to put food on the table, there was very little money left for things like books so it’s great to see Aldi step up to address a growing need for access to books in communities just like mine.
“It’s important that children can see a world much bigger than what they see on their doorstep and that can be achieved through books.”
According to research by the National Literacy Trust, one in 17 children in the UK does not have a book of their own at home.
Charities are anticipating this number could increase in the next year due to the cost-of-living crisis.
The 100,000 books donated by Aldi will be produced by Macmillan Children’s Books and distributed with support from the charity Magic Breakfast, who provide free breakfasts to children and young people at schools in disadvantaged areas.
Additional copies will also be donated via the giving platform Neighbourly.
Customers have been encouraged to donate additional funds towards the campaign, with £5 equating to the cost of approximately two gifted books.
Giles Hurley, chief executive officer at Aldi UK and Ireland, said: “At Aldi we believe that access to books, just like quality food, should be a right not a privilege; every child deserves to experience the magic of reading.
“Not only are we donating over 100,000 books to children who need them, this campaign also aims to help raise awareness of the increasing number of children who don’t have access to their own books at home so those who are in the fortunate position to do so, have the chance to help too.”
For more information and to donate a book to a child in need, visit: www.aldi.co.uk/donatebooks