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Burberry and Marcus Rashford deck the school halls with thousands of books

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The fashion house and footballer are building libraries in underfunded schools across the UK

In the UK, almost 400,000 children do not own a book. It’s a damning statistic given that reading for pleasure has more of an impact on life achievement than socio-economic background and is more important to a child’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education. Knowing this, Burberry and Marcus Rashford (Dazed coverstar, footballer, poverty campaigner, and the envy of every mother up and down the country) have made a pledge to help disadvantaged children get into books.

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Today, Burberry has announced that it will pay to create libraries in 10 underfunded schools in Manchester, Yorkshire, and London, donating 8,000 books and providing training to a further 200 teachers across the country. In addition to this, all 10 schools will take part in the Marcus Rashford Book Club, a programme created by Rashford and Macmillan Children’s Books earlier this year – all of which will benefit over 3,500 children in total. “These children need the escapism of reading more than most, and access to books should not be restricted by the area you grow up in. Coming out of the pandemic, there was a huge need for safe spaces – a space where children could come and just breathe; process their feelings. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here,” Rashford says. 

Something of a Christmas tradition – last year the footballer returned to his old youthclub with the fashion house, making donations to global children’s charities – Burberry has captured its goodwill with a series of images shot by Campbell Addy, Dazed editor in chief IB Kamara, and makeup artist Isayama Ffrench. Backdropped by enormous blank pages, the trio transformed children into fantastical dinosaurs, doctors, fashionistas, and superheroes. “The creative was led by the kids,” Kamara says, “we worked with them to achieve what they had imagined for their future selves. They were so confident, smart, and they were very detailed about what they wanted, which I loved. It’s so beautiful to see how ambitious and exciting their ideas were.”

Though Kamara fancied himself as a doctor when he was little, it was Postman Pat with whom he first felt an affinity – “I thought he was too cool!” Ffrench, on the other hand, was a little more outré in her tastes. “The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and the Goosebumps series by RL Stine were my favourite books as a kid,” she says, having spent the shoot painting fangs onto seven-year-olds while crafting cardboard stethoscopes, space helmets, and suitcases. “A bit of a change from lipstick and eyeliner! It felt totally refreshing to let go, think quickly, and create things with what we had on hand. Working like that is very rare in the beauty industry, where everything has to look spotless most of the time, so it was liberating to create big, colourful, childlike looks”. 

The model kids, who are all on schemes ran by the National Literacy Trust, steal Ffrench and Kamara’s thunder, however. “They’re not self-conscious at that age, which is a joy to see,” Ffrench says. “In fact, the first thing they told us is that they were having the best day ever – even though they had to come to their school during the holidays.”

Flick through the gallery above to see what Kamara, Ffrench, and Campbell created, and head over to Burberry to read more about its festive funding.