Premier League players go online to promote childhood reading
One of the Premier League's longest standing community initiatives recently received an online makeover to make it more accessible to all.
Premier League Reading Stars (PLRS), which started in 2003, is delivered by the National Literacy Trust and funded by the Arts Council and the Premier League. The programme sees players from all 20 Premier League clubs encourage children to improve their literacy skills by recommending their favourite books to read. Each club selects one player to serve as their "Reading Star" and they choose their favourite adult and children's book to create a recommended reading list of 40 books.
To date the initiative has remained a fairly local affair for clubs as players visited local schools and libraries to read to children. However, it was recognised that the scheme could reach a much wider audience if the players read excerpts from their favourite books online.
While the programme will continue to work with over 1,000 schools and local libraries, now millions around the world can watch videos of reading challenges set by the Premier League players. The player asks reading comprehension questions based on the excerpts, which participants can answer alongside the video. Correct answers are rewarded by special video messages from the players, including them discussing why they love reading and explaining what it is about their chosen books that they enjoy.
For the 2011/12 season, book choices ranged from bestsellers to the classics, thrillers to history. There are familiar names on the list such as Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Dan Brown and Julia Donaldson, but the likes of Paulo Coelho, Bram Stoker, Harper Lee and Alexandre Dumas also make an appearance. Three of the players are authors in their own right: Arsenal's Theo Walcott, Fulham's Mark Schwarzer and Stoke City's Carlo Nash.
The programme was launched in January 2012 at the Emirates Stadium, featuring appearances from Theo Walcott and National Literacy Trust advocate HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. The kids in attendance took part in a reading quiz with the two guests and the winning team were given a penalty-shooting lesson by Theo.
Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, attended the event and said of the project: "Knowing that Premier League footballers like Theo Walcott read for pleasure will go a long way to encouraging reluctant readers to pick up a book.The difference in reading ability between those who read for just half an hour a day is equivalent to a whole year's schooling at age 15."
The reading challenges can be found at http://www.premierleaguereadingstars.org.uk
"KNOWING THAT PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALLERS LIKE THEO WALCOTT READ FOR PLEASURE WILL GO A LONG WAY TO ENCOURAGING RELUCTANT READERS TO PICK UP A BOOK.THE DIFFERENCE IN READING ABILITY BETWEEN THOSE WHO READ FOR JUST HALF AN HOUR A DAY IS EQUIVALENT TO A WHOLE YEAR'S SCHOOLING AT AGE 15." NICK GIBB MINISTER OF STATEFOR SCHOOLS