Marcus Rashford MBE has been named FutureBook Person of the Year. The Manchester United and England footballer is the fourth recipient of the award after publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, writer Kit de Waal and Meryl Halls, m.d. of the Booksellers Association. Rashford was nominated for using his platform to promote reading and books as well as for speaking out on child poverty during the pandemic.
The Person of the Year award is for people making a real difference in publishing through their actions and advocacy. Rashford inked a deal with Macmillan Children's Books a year ago that saw him launch his first children's book, You Are A Champion, as well as the The Marcus Rashford Book Club, a reader recommends programme that showcases the works of young, emerging writers and illustrators from all backgrounds. As part of that deal, Rashford and Macmillan have worked to donate books to children who otherwise would not get access, with partners including Magic Breakfast, the National Literacy Trust, BT and W H Smith.
The award also recognises Rashford's advocacy around child poverty and free school meals and more generally holding the government to account for decisions that have a tangible and lasting impact on young people's lives. It too acknowledges his incredible steadfastness in the face of the racism he and other footballers of colour still face in today's game and more generally on social media.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller which runs the annual FutureBook Conference, said: "The FutureBook Person of the Year award is for change-makers, people making a real and marked difference in the book publishing community and beyond. I am more than delighted that Marcus Rashford has agreed to accept the award for 2021, following our fabulous previous winners. Marcus' advocacy around reading is a precious commodity, his allyship a real and powerful tool as the sector works to get more books into the hands of more readers, as well as improving representation in those books."
Rashford is interviewed in The Bookseller this week and features on the front cover of the magazine. He will also share a video acceptance speech at the conference.
In The Bookseller interview he described what publishing his first book meant to him, and what he hoped to achieve with the book club. "The actual physical book was always secondary to the bigger picture here for me. Success was getting great books in the hands of the children who truly need them. Books that children could take lessons and tools from, that would help them overcome any challenge they were facing. Success is representation. Success is knowing any child can pick up my book and think it was written for them."
The FutureBook Conference takes place on 19th November, and will be held live at 155 Bishopsgate in central London, as well as online. Tickets may be orderd online or for group bookings, contact email@example.com.
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