Footballers from the 20 Barclays Premier League clubs have lent their support to the Premier League Reading Stars which was launched today, on World Book Day by the National Literacy Trust and the Premier League for the 2015/16 season.
In its 13th year Premier League Reading Stars uses the power of football to inspire thousands of children in disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom to improve their literacy skills.
Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin is one of the 20 players and spoke of the importance of reading for kids as well as for young players.
"You might not realise it, but education is very important for a footballer. As an academy player you need to study until you are 18. And you never know, you may have an injury so it’s important to have a good education. Like in football, don’t ever give up. If you haven’t found the right book for you, keep going, you will."
The players named their favourite adult and children’s books to support the innovative programme and one of Bellerin's, appropriately for one of the fastest members of the Arsenal squad, was the autobiography of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, "Faster than Lightning. My Story”. The book recommended by the Spaniard for children is the Ladybird’s "Three Little Pigs".
This year Premier League Reading Stars features a new digital resource which has 60 online challenges. The Reading Stars website can be used at school, in a library or at home, which means parents can get involved, too.
By completing literacy activities, participants can unlock exclusive rewards including video clips of their heroes, signed certificates and player profiles. In addition to access to the website and downloadable resources, teachers receive a box of books, National Literacy Trust Network membership, and a toolkit and physical resources to run 10 Premier League Reading Stars sessions. The sessions are designed for pupils aged between 9-13 and each covers a different type or aspect of reading.
Research has shown that Premier League Reading Stars has a positive impact on both children’s reading enjoyment and attainment. In 2014/15, it was found that at the end of the programme there had been a 50% increase in the number of children who enjoy reading (44% before, 66% afterwards). In the previous year three out of four pupils’ reading levels increased by six months or more.
"The National Literacy Trust’s Premier League Reading Stars programme has been designed for reluctant readers," Premier League Reading Stars Senior Programme Manager Marian Keen-Downs said. "It targets pupils, particularly boys, who love football but don’t see the relevance of reading to their lives.
"For any fan, learning about the current season is hugely appealing and we use that appeal to stimulate reading and build reading stamina."
For more information on Premier League Reading Stars and to sign up your school, visit: http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/premier_league_reading_stars