Book-ish in Crickhowell, Wales, has raised more than £4,000 as part of a crowdfunding campaign to buy copies of Marcus Rashford's You are a Champion (Macmillan Children's Books) to give to pupils in local schools.
This is enough to give out more than 800 books to children living in the Vale of Glamorgan, the Welsh Valleys, South Powys and Monmouthshire. The crowdfunder was set up by store owner Emma Corfield-Walters and surged in popularity after England were beaten on penalties by Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Some of the players, including Rashord, were abused online after some of the squad failed to score in a penalty shoot-out. The campaign aims to highlight the "inspirational" achievements of the England team, and particularly Rashford, who has championed a number of food poverty and reading causes recently.
Corfield-Walters told The Bookseller: "Especially on the back of everything that's happened with the Euros we just thought [Rashford's] whole story is really inspirational and I wouldn't want the fact that they didn't win to blight that. All of the good work that he's done needs to be at the fore of everything now and all of the conversations that we have because he's just an inspirational figure."
She said the crowdfunder would provide books to children who don't necessarily have any of their own books at home, or any nearby bookshops or libraries. "Although the bookshop isn't necessarily in an area that has a huge amount of child poverty, we are absolutely ringed by it, being literally five miles away from Ebbw Vale which has one of the highest levels of child poverty in the UK."
She said the 12th July response had been "really amazing" adding: "My plan is to try and get something along the lines of 1,500 books into the schools because we've got some really big secondary schools and I know that one of them are having an intake of 290 pupils just in Year 7 so it would be amazing to be able to give those 290 pupils a book on their first day of secondary school to inspire them throughout that year. I'm hoping that we'll be able to really increase that target. Early signs are that we might."
"I think off the back of the unpleasantness of last night people are now wanting to do something to show some solidarity," she added. "They have seen all of the good things that have come out from the team and I think that's why a lot of people have really identified with the team. You know, I don't watch football, but I watched some of the match last night because I thought the team really deserved to win for all of the things they have been doing and what they represent and how we want things to go forward. I think lots of people want to support that and put some money where their thoughts and their sentiments are.
"I'm sure there are plenty of other projects happening right now that deserve just as much attention but I think for our customers and the people who follow us, they realise how important it is to get books into children's hands. Because potentially just that one act could make a really big difference to even just one child so that's our job done."
In a message of support on Monday, following racist abuse of Rashford and other England players, the striker's publisher Pan Macmillan shared a statement on social media. It said: "We are so proud to publish Marcus Rashford - he is an inspiration and role model to children across the nation. The England team can hold their heads up high for everything they achieved #youareachampion #stophate"
You are a Champion is Rashford’s first book, written with Carl Anka. You can donate to Book-ish's crowdfunder here.