Burberry and Marcus Rashford cover the schoolrooms with thousands of books

In the UK, nearly 400,000 children do not have a book. It’s a devastating statistic as reading for pleasure has more of an impact on life performance than socioeconomic background and is more important to a child’s cognitive development than their parents’ educational level. Knowing this, Burberry and Marcus Rashford (Dazed cover star, football player, poverty activist and the envy of every mother across the country) have made a pledge to help underprivileged children get into books.

Burberry announced today that it will pay to create libraries in 10 underfunded schools in Manchester, Yorkshire and London, donate 8,000 books and provide training to a further 200 teachers across the country. In addition, all 10 schools will participate in the Marcus Rashford Book Club, a program launched earlier this year by Rashford and Macmillan Children’s Books that will benefit a total of more than 3,500 children. “These kids need the escapism of reading more than most, and access to books shouldn’t be limited by the area you grow up in. When the pandemic came out, there was a huge need for safe spaces – a space where kids could come and just breathe; process their feelings. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here,” said Rashford.

Something of a Christmas tradition – last year the footballer returned to his old childhood club with the fashion house and made donations to children’s charities around the world – Burberry has captured its goodwill with a series of photos taken by Campbell Addy, Dazed editor-in-chief IB Kamara, and makeup artist Isayama Ffrench. In the background through huge blank pages, the trio transformed children into fantastic dinosaurs, doctors, fashionistas and superheroes. “The creative was led by the kids,” says Kamara, “we worked with them to achieve what they envisioned for their future selves. They were so confident, smart and very detailed about what they wanted, which I loved It’s so beautiful to see how ambitious and exciting their ideas were.”

Although Kamara thought of 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 bit more outré in her taste. “The magical distant tree by Enid Blyton and the goosebumps RL Stine series were my favorite books as a kid,” she says, painting canines on seven-year-olds during the shoot, making cardboard stethoscopes, space helmets, and suitcases. “A bit of a change from lipstick and eyeliner! It felt really refreshing to let go, think fast and create things with what we had at hand. Working like this is very rare in the beauty industry, where everything usually has to look immaculate, so it was liberating to create big, colorful, childlike looks.”

However, the model kids, who all participate in National Literacy Trust programs, steal the thunder from Ffrench and Kamara. “They’re not self-conscious at that age, which is a joy to watch,” says Ffrench. “The first thing they told us was that they had the best day ever, even though they had to go to school during the holidays.”

Browse the gallery above to see what Kamara, Ffrench and Campbell have created, and head over to Burberry to learn more about the festive funding.

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