English footballers back books-reading intitiative

Ever wondered if footballers read in their spare time? David James, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Eidur Gudjohnsen are among twenty English Premiership players who have revealed their favourite books as part of an English initiative called Premier League Reading Stars which is aimed at encouraging people of all ages to read more books and access their local libraries. Each club has nominated a Reading Champion, who has selected their favourite children or adult's book to create a list that will be used to inspire families across the country to read.

Players have selected a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, including Dan Brown's bestselling thriller "The Da Vinci Code" (Kevin Davies, Bolton Wanderers), Roald Dahl's classic "Matilda" (Steven Caldwell, Sunderland) and Lance Armstrong's inspirational autobiography "It's Not About The Bike" (Stephen Clemence, Birmingham City).

The scheme has been developed as part of a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Arts Council England, Football Foundation and the Premier League, and will be supported by a series of family reading groups at libraries across the country. All clubs have adopted at least one library, who receive free copies of all the player recommended titles. All participants have the chance to meet an author, and take part in a series of football based literacy games throughout the initiative.

Dave Richards, Chairman of the Premier League and the Football Foundation, said: "With Premier League Reading Stars, we hope to be able to use footballers' favourite book choices as a way of inspiring families to read together. The programme gives players the opportunity to act as positive role models and shows that by using the power of football we can successfully change people's attitudes to reading."

Gary McKeone, Director of Literature at Arts Council England, said: 'We're delighted with the success of the scheme so far in bringing together football clubs and local libraries. We have seen how the iconic power of footballers helps to encourage children to read more, and, even more importantly, to enjoy reading more. We look forward to seeing the scheme develop so it can reach even more children and their families across the country."

Neil McClelland, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "Children who grow up in a home where reading is valued are being given the best start in life. By tapping into people's passion for football and providing positive role models, Premier League Reading Stars is able to inspire families to enjoy reading and sharing books together."