Frank Lampard is encouraging fellow fathers to keep reading with their children and pass on "priceless" skills after leading the launch of the 2015 Premier League Reading stars programme on World Book Day.
The Manchester City midfielder joins 19 other Barclays Premier League footballers to act as 'Reading Stars' in the programme, funded by the Premier League, that uses the power of football to inspire thousands of children in disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom to improve their literacy skills.
"As a dad, literacy is a cause close to my heart. I love reading with my girls"
The Premier League Reading Stars list for 2015 was revealed and Lampard, who has written 'Frankie's Magic Football series' of children's books, attended the launch event at Urmston Junior School, in Manchester.
Lampard was thrilled to be involved in the programme, run in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, which he has been since its inception 12 years ago.
"As a dad, literacy is a cause close to my heart," Lampard, who answered questions from the schoolchildren and even went in goal against them, said. "I love reading with my girls, and would really encourage other parents to keep reading with their kids, because your influence is so important, and the skills that children get from reading are priceless. Even 10 minutes a day is valuable, and a great time spent with them."
Research has shown that Premier League Reading Stars is an effective programme that closes the gap in reading ability between seven to 15 year-olds who are underachieving and those who are reading at the expected level. This year, the National Literacy Trust is a leading partner of the 'Read On. Get On' Campaign, which highlights the crucial role of fathers in supporting their child to read.
"Premier League Reading Stars is a fantastic example of the work carried out by our clubs and their Foundations which encourage young people to make positive choices," Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said. "Over the last eleven years it has used the power of football, and the popularity of Premier League clubs and players, to encourage children to enjoy reading, and to talk about the books they read."
Newcastle University research for the 'Read On. Get On' scheme shows that a father reading daily to a five-year-old means that a child's reading will be almost half a year more advanced than a child read to less than once a week by their dad.
Fathers and other family members can support children's literacy by watching Premier League footballing dads talking about what they enjoy about reading with their kids at www.premierleaguereadingstars.org.uk, as well as taking part in challenges on the site, reading for 10 minutes a day with their children and visiting www.wordsforlife.org.uk to find book recommendations, activities and tips.
"Parents have a huge impact on their child's motivation and ability to read and it's great to see so many of our Reading Stars who are also dads share their love of reading and books," Jim Sells, Manager of the programme at the National Literacy Trust said. "As shown by the proven success of our Premier League Reading Stars programme, using football as a hook to get children to enjoy reading gives them a significant uplift in reading levels, helping them to succeed at school and gain vital skills for the future."