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Footballers' literary recommendations 'will boost sales'

27th January 2012

Sales of books among young people are expected to soar following the launch of a scheme by the Premier League and the National Literary Trust, in which soccer stars list their literary recommendations.

As part of the Premier League Reading Stars programme, top players have suggested their favourite titles in a bid to boost the number of children and young adults reading books around the UK.

Each player was nominated by their club to be a 'reading star' and asked to suggest both a children's book and an adult title in a bid to appeal to young people of all ages, with some classic titles making the list.

Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton recommended The Witches by Roald Dahl and Bram Stoker's Dracula, while Tottenham Hotspur's Niko Kranjcar suggested Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion's Paul Scharner advises reading Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo and the classic Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo, with Bolton Wanderers' Stuart Holden backing another Roald Dahl book - The Twits - and Paul Coelho's bestseller The Alchemist.

Since 2003, over 100 Premier League players have supported the scheme, with 96 per cent of children who have taken part saying they will read more regularly as a result of their heroes' recommendations.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said that in 2012 the programme will work with 1,000 schools and libraries and reach more than 30,000 young people.

He commented: 'Our research shows that a quarter of boys say that a sportsperson could inspire them to read. So getting footballers on board gives us a new and powerful strategy to get boys reading.'

Schools minister Nick Gibb noted that 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, so any scheme that helps to promote literature is welcome.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore added: 'The success of Premier League Reading Stars in encouraging children to read over the last eight years underlines the wonderful power football has in engaging young people.'

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