Tuesday 22 May 2012
The Premier League Reading Stars initiative uses the motivational power of football to encourage pupils to improve their literacy skills.
The scheme has assisted thousands of children since it began in 2003 and here, 11-year-old Muhammad Sajid from Whitechapel in East London explains how Reading Stars has helped him.
"My teacher picked me to do Premier League Reading Stars because he knows I'm into football. I hated reading before. I would just watch TV. So I didn't read that much, but football got me into it.
"I think I knew there were books about football before but I didn't bother to read them before taking part in Premier League Reading Stars – it really got me reading every week.
"It's helped me with my other lessons and my reading tests"
- Muhammad Sajid
"When we did the sessions we would first talk about our books, read a bit of our book, do a quiz or a game. I liked doing the activities, getting stickers, playing hangman - I know quite a lot about football so it was easy for me.
"My teacher read to us and I liked it and that made me think 'let me try reading' and I really liked it. I like it when the teacher reads - I enjoy the special expressions.
"Because my parents are from another country, they don't understand my books. They have their Bengali books. They only speak Bengali so they only read Bengali books. I don't understand the Bengali books so I read my English books. They don't understand all the English words so I just read it to myself - I get on with my books and they can get on with theirs.
"When someone knows books better than you, they can introduce you to books you will be interested in. I'm reading more because I know that big football stars read more and that’s kind of motivating.
"My favourite book was Sol Campbell's autobiography. I also read more magazines about things I enjoy, as well as newspapers. I used to look at the pictures, but now I read the stories.
"Basically I am interested in autobiographies. I want to read more challenging books - I'm just reading stories at the moment and seeing how good I am. After that, I will read harder books.
"It's helped me with my other lessons and my reading tests. It made it easier to answer more questions. Reading is important for secondary school because the teachers have high expectations of your reading. It’s important for everything. I hated it before but now I know how important it is."
Muhammad Sajid's teacher Jim Maycock:
"When I told my class about Premier League Reading Stars, they were very, very excited. But a couple of pupils were immediately put off when they were told it involved reading.
"Sajid was very honest - he said that even though he liked football, and knew that he would be interested in the books, he would not take them home with him.
"Now he's reading a book a week, including fiction"
- Sajid's teacher Jim Maycock
"There was a degree of pride in not reading. He couldn't see that reading was a pleasurable activity. His family can't read English. They were very keen that he read but couldn't monitor or access what he was reading. So he looked at his books when told to at home, but he didn't read them.
"The turning point was when he realised that he could read autobiographies - specifically Sol Campbell's autobiography. It was harder to get him to read novels. He'd lost faith in the reading process because he'd gone for 10 years without finding a book he liked.
"He talked about how hard it was for him to get into a book because he would get bored if the story didn't go anywhere. The autobiography appealed to him because it didn't have talking animals or fairies in it, and other things he expected from fiction.
"He was prepared to give fiction a try when he realised that there were books where he could access information and read about football. Some of the stories did engage him eventually and now he's reading a book a week, including fiction."